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OLIVER TWIST. 



BY 



CHARLES DICKENS. 



AUTHOR OF " THE PICKWICK PAPERS. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 



VOL. III. 



LONDON: 

RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET. 

1838, 



WHITING, 
EEAUFOKT HOUSE. 



OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

CONTAINING AN ACCOUNT OF WHAT PASSED BETWEEN MR. 
AND MRS. BUMBLE AND MONKS, AT THEIR NOCTURNAL 
INTERVIEW. 

It was a dull, close, overcast summer even- 
ing, when the clouds, which had been threaten- 
ing all day, spread out in a dense and sluggish 
mass of vapour, already yielded large drops of 
rain, and seemed to presage a violent* thunder- 
storm, — as Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, turning out 
of the main street of the town, directed their 
course towards a scattered little colony of 
ruinous houses, distant from it some mile and 
a-half, or thereabouts, and erected on a low 
unwholesome swamp, bordering upon the river. 

VOL. III. B 



2 OLIVER TWIST. 

They were both wrapped in old and shabby- 
outer garments, which might perhaps serve the 
double purpose of protecting their persons 
from the rain, and sheltering them from obser- 
vation; the husband carried a lantern, from 
which, however, no light yet shone, and trudged 
on a few paces in front, as though — the way 
being dirty — to give his wife the benefit of 
treading in his heavy foot-prints. They went 
on in profound silence; every now and then 
Mr. Bumble relaxed his pace, and turned his 
head round, as if to make sure that his help- 
mate was following, and, discovering that she 
was close at his heels, mended his rate of walk- 
ing, and proceeded at a considerable increase of 
speed towards their place of destination. 

This was far from being a place of doubtful 
character, for it had long been known as the 
residence of none but low and desperate ruffians, 
who, under various pretences of living by their 
labour, subsisted chiefly on plunder and crime. 
It was a collection of mere hovels, some hastily 
built with loose bricks, and others of old worm- 
eaten ship timber, jumbled together without 



OLIVER TWIST. 3 

any attempt at order or arrangement, and 
planted, for the most part, within a few feet of 
the river's bank. A few leaky boats drawn up 
on the mud, and made fast to the dwarf wall 
which skirted it, and here and there an oar or 
eoil of rope, appeared at first to indicate that 
the inhabitants of these miserable cottages pur- 
sued some avocation on the river ; but a glance 
at the shattered and useless condition of the 
articles thus displayed would have led a passer- 
by without much difficulty to the conjecture 
that they were disposed there, rather for the 
preservation of appearances than with any view 
to their being actually employed. 

In the heart of this cluster of huts, and skirt- 
ing the river, which its upper stories overhung, 
stood a large building formerly used as a manu- 
factory of some kind, and which had in its day 
probably furnished employment to the inhabit- 
ants of the surrounding tenements. But it had 
long since gone to ruin. The rat, the worm, 
and the action of the damp, had weakened and 
rotted the piles en which it stood, and a con- 
B 2 



4 OLIVER TWIST. 

siderable portion of the building had already- 
sunk down into the water beneath, while the 
remainder, tottering and bending over the dark 
stream, seemed to wait a favourable opportunity 
of following its old companion, and involving 
itself in the same fate. 

It was before this ruinous building that the 
worthy couple paused as the first peal of distant 
thunder reverberated in the air, and the rain 
commenced pouring violently down. 

" The place should be somewhere here," said 
Bumble, consulting a scrap of paper he held in 
his hand. 

" Halloa there !" cried a voice from above. 

Following the sound, Bumble raised his head, 
and descried a man looking out of a door, 
breast-high, on the second story. 

" Stand still a minute," cried the voice ; " I'll 
be with you directly." With which the head 
disappeared, and the door closed. 

" Is that the man ?" asked Mr. Bumble's 
good lady. 

Mr. Bumble nodded in the affirmative. 



OLIVER TWIST. 6 

"Then, mind what I told you/' said the 
matron, and be careful to say as little as you 
can, or you'll betray us at once." 

Mr. Bumble, who had eyed the building with 
very rueful looks, was apparently about to ex- 
press some doubts relative to the advisability of 
proceeding any farther with the enterprise just 
then, when he was prevented by the appear- 
ance of Monks, who opened a small door, 
near which they stood, and beckoned them in- 
wards. 

C( Come !" he cried impatiently, stamping 
his foot upon the ground. " Don't keep me 
here !" 

The woman, who had hesitated at first, 
walked boldly in without any further invitation, 
and Mr. Bumble, who was ashamed or afraid 
to lag behind, followed, obviously very ill at his 
ease, and with scarcely any of that remarkable 
dignity which was usually his chief character- 
istic. 

" What the devil made you stand lingering 
there in the wet ?" said Monks, turning round, 



OLIVER TWIST. 

and addressing Bumble, after he had bolted the 
door behind them. 

" We — we were only cooling ourselves/ 5 
stammered Bumble, looking apprehensively 
about him. 

a Cooling yourselves !" retorted Monks. 
" Not all the rain that ever fell, or ever will fall, 
will put as much of hell's fire out as a man can 
carry about with him. You won't cool yourself 
so easily, don't think it !" 

With this agreeable speech Monks turned 
short upon the matron, and bent his fierce gaze 
upon her, till even she, who was not easily 
cowed, was fain to withdraw her eyes, and turn 
them towards the ground. 

"This is the woman, is it?" demanded 
Monks. 

" Hem ! That is the woman/' replied Mr. 
Bumble, mindful of his wife's caution. 

u You think women never can keep secrets, 
I suppose }" said the matron, interposing, and 
returning as she spoke the searching look of 
Monks. 



OLIVER TWIST. 7 

a I know they will always keep one till it's 
found out," said Monks contemptuously. 

" And what may that be ?" asked the matron 
in the same tone. 

" The loss of their own good name/' replied 
Monks : " so, by the same rule, if a woman's a 
party to a secret that might hang or transport 
her, I'm not afraid of her telling it to any body, 
not I. Do you understand me ?" 

"No," rejoined the matron, slightly colour- 
ing as she spoke. 

"Of course you don't!" said Monks ironi- 
cally. "How should you ?" 

Bestowing something half-way between a 
sneer and a scowl upon his two companions, 
and again beckoning them to follow him, the 
man hastened across the apartment, which was 
of considerable extent, but low in the roof, and 
was preparing to ascend a steep staircase, or 
rather ladder, leading to another floor of ware- 
houses above, when a bright flash of lightning 
streamed down the aperture, and a peal of 
thunder followed, which shook the crazy build- 
ing to its centre. 



8 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Hear it !" he cried, shrinking back. " Hear 
it rolling and crashing away as if it echoed 
through a thousand caverns, where the devils 
are hiding from it. Fire the sound ! I hate 
it." 

He remained silent for a few moments, and 
then removing his hands suddenly from his 
face, showed, to the unspeakable discomposure 
of Mr. Bumble, that it was much distorted, and 
nearly blank. 

et These fits come over me now and then," 
said Monks, observing his alarm, " and thunder 
sometimes brings them on. Don't mind me 
now ; it's all over for this once." 

Thus speaking, he led the way up the ladder, 
and hastily closing the window-shutter of the 
room into which it led, lowered a lantern which 
hung at the end of a rope and pulley passed 
through one of the heavy beams in the ceil- 
ing, and which cast a dim light upon an old 
table and three chairs that were placed be- 
neath it. 

" Now," said Monks, when they had all 
three seated themselves, ei the sooner we come 



OLIVER TWIST. 9 

to our business, the better for all. The woman 
knows what it is, does she }" 

The question was addressed to Bumble ; but 
his wife anticipated the reply, by intimating 
that she was perfectly acquainted with it. 

" He is right in saying that you were with 
this hag the night she died, and that she told 
you something — " 

" About the mother of the boy you named," 
replied the matron interrupting him. " Yes." 

"The first question is, of what nature was 
her communication ?" said Monks. 

" That's the second," observed the woman 
with much deliberation. "The first is, what 
may the communication be worth ?" 

"Who the devil can tell that, without know- 
ing of what kind it is ?" asked Monks. 

" Nobody better than you, I am persuaded," 
answered Mrs. Bumble, who did not want for 
spirit, as her yokefellow could abundantly tes- 
tify. 

" Humph !" said Monks significantly, and 
with a look of eager inquiry, "there may be 
money's worth to get, eh ?" 
b3 



10 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Perhaps there may/ 5 was the composed 
reply. 

" Something that was taken from her/' said 
Monks eagerly ; " something that she wore — 
something that — " 

" You had better bid/* interrupted Mrs. 
Bumble. " I have heard enough already to 
assure me that you are the man I ought to 
talk to." 

Mr. Bumble, who had not yet been admitted 
by his better half into any greater share of the 
secret than he had originally possessed, listened 
to this dialogue with outstretched neck and dis- 
tended eyes, which he directed towards his wife 
and Monks by turns in undisguised astonish- 
ment ; increased, if possible, when the latter 
sternly demanded what sum was required for 
the disclosure. 

"What's it worth to you?" asked the wo- 
man, as collectedly as before. 

"It may be nothing; it may be twenty 
pounds," replied Monks ; " speak out, and let 
me know which/ 5 



OLIVER TWIST. 11 

"Add five pounds to the sum you have 
named; give me five-and-twenty pounds in 
gold/' said the woman, "and I'll tell you all 
I know — not before/ 5 

" Five - and - twenty pounds !" exclaimed 
Monks, drawing back. 

" I spoke as plainly as I could/ 5 replied 
Mrs. Bumble, "and it's not a large sum 
either/ 5 

" Not a large sum for a paltry secret, that 
may be nothing when it's told I" cried Monks 
impatiently, "and which has been lying dead 
for twelve years past, or more !" 

" Such matters keep well, and, like good 
wine, often double their value in course of 
time,' 5 answered the matron, still preserving 
the resolute indifference she had assumed. " As 
to lying dead, there are those who will lie dead 
for twelve thousand years to come, or twelve 
million, for any thing you or I know, who will 
tell strange tales at last !" 

" What if I pay it for nothing ?" asked 
Monks, hesitating. 



12 OLIVER TWIST. 

" You can easily take it away again," replied 
the matron. " I am but a woman, alone here, 
and unprotected." 

* Not alone, my dear, nor unprotected nei- 
ther," submitted Mr. Bumble, in a voice tremu- 
lous with fear ; " / am here, my dear. And 
besides," said Mr. Bumble, his teeth chattering 
as he spoke, " Mr. Monks is too much of a 
gentleman to attempt any violence on parochial 
persons. Mr. Monks is aware that I am not a 
young man, my dear, and also that I am a little 
run to seed, as I may say ; but he has heerd — 
I say I have no doubt Mr. Monks has heerd, 
my dear — that I am a very determined officer, 
with very uncommon strength, if I'm once 
roused. I only want a little rousing, that's 
all." 

As Mr. Bumble spoke, he made a melancholy 
feint of grasping his lantern with fierce deter- 
mination, and plainly showed, by the alarmed 
expression of every feature, that he did want a 
little rousing, and not a little, prior to making 
any very warlike demonstration, unless, indeed, 



OLIVER TWIST. 13 

against paupers, or other person or persons 
trained down for the purpose. 

" You are a fool," said Mrs. Bumble, in reply, 
" and had better hold your tongue." 

a He had better have cut it out before he 
came, if he can't speak in a lower tone," said 
Monks, grimly. "So he's your husband, 
eh?" 

" He my husband !" tittered the matron, 
parrying the question. 

u I thought as much when you came in," re- 
joined Monks, marking the angry glance which 
the lady darted at her spouse as she spoke. 
"So much the better; I have less hesitation 
in dealing with two people, when I find that 
there's only one will between them. I'm in 
earnest — see here.'" 

He thrust his hand into a side-pocket, and 
producing a canvass bag, told out twenty-five 
sovereigns on the table, and pushed them over 
to the woman. 

"Now," he said, "gather them up; and 
when this cursed peal of thunder, that I feel is 



14 OLIVER TWIST. 

coming up to break over the house-top, is gone., 
letfs hear your story." 

The roar of thunder, which seemed in fact 
much nearer, and to shiver and break almost 
over their heads, having subsided, Monks, 
raising his face from the table, bent forward to 
listen to what the woman should say. The 
faces of the three nearly touched as the two 
men leant over the small table in their eagerness 
to hear, and the woman also leant forward to 
render her whisper audible. The sickly rays of 
the suspended lantern falling directly upon 
them, aggravated the paleness and anxiety of 
their countenances, which, encircled by the 
deepest gloom and darkness, looked ghastly in 
the extreme. 

" When this woman, that we called old Sally, 
died," the matron began, "she and I were 
alone. " 

"Was there no one by?" asked Monks, in 
the same hollow whisper, " no sick wretch or 
idiot in some other bed ? — no one who could 
hear, and might by possibility understand Y* 



OLIVER TWIST. 15 

"Not a soul/' replied the woman; "we were 
alone : / stood alone beside the body when 
death came over it." 

"Good/ 5 said Monks, regarding her atten- 
tively : " go on." 

u She spoke of a young creature/ 5 resumed 
the matron, u who had brought a child into the 
world some years before : not merely in the 
same room, but in the same bed in which she 
then lay dying." 

"Ay?" said Monks, with quivering lip, and 
glancing over his shoulder. " Blood ! How 
things come about at last 1" 

u The child was the one you named to him 
last night," said the matron, nodding carelessly 
towards her husband ; " the mother this nurse 
had robbed." 

"In life?" asked Monks. 

" In death/' replied the woman, with some- 
thing like a shudder. "She stole from the 
corpse, when it had hardly turned to one, that 
which the dead mother had prayed her with her 
last breath to keep for the infant's sake.*" 

" She sold it ?" cried Monks, with desperate 



16 OLIVER TWIST. 

eagerness ; u did she sell it ? — where ? — when ? 
— to whom ? — how long before } n 

iC As she told me with great difficulty that she 
had done this," said the matron, " she fell back 
and died/' 

"Without saying more?" cried Monks, in a 
voice which, from its very suppression, seemed 
only the more furious. iC It's a lie ! I'll not be 
played with. She said more — 111 tear the 
life out of you both, but 111 know what it 
was." 

Ci She didn't utter another word," said the 
woman, to all appearance unmoved (as Mr. 
Bumble was very far from being) by the strange 
man's violence ; " but she clutched my gown 
violently with one hand, which was partly 
closed, and when I saw that she was dead, and 
so removed the hand by force, I found it clasped 
a scrap of dirty paper." 

" Which contained — " interposed Monks, 
stretching forward. 

" Nothing,"" replied the woman ; " it was a 
pawnbroker's duplicate." 

" For what r" demanded Monks. 



OLIVER TWIST. 17 

" In good time I'll tell you/' said the woman. 
" I judge that she had kept the trinket for some 
time, in the hope of turning it to better account, 
and then pawned it, and saved or scraped toge- 
ther money to pay the pawnbroker's interest 
year by year, and prevent its running out, so 
that if any thing came of it, it could still be 
redeemed. Nothing had come of it ; and, as I 
tell you, she died with the scrap of paper, all 
worn and tattered, in her hand. The time was 
out in two days ; I thought something might 
one day come of it too, and so redeemed the 
pledge." 

a Where is it now ?" asked Monks quickly. 

Ci There" replied the woman. And, as if 
glad to be relieved of it, she hastily threw upon 
the table a small kid bag scarcely large enough 
for a French watch, which Monks pouncing 
upon, tore open with trembling hands. It con- 
tained a little gold locket, in which were two 
locks of hair, and a plain gold wedding-ring. 

" It has the word ' Agnes' engraved on the 
inside," said the woman. " There is a blank 



18 OLIVER TWIST. 

left for the surname, and then follows the date, 
which is within a year before the child was 
horn ; I found out that." 

" And this is all ?" said Monks, after a close 
and eager scrutiny of the contents of the little 
packet. 

" All," replied the woman. 

Mr. Bumble drew a long breath, as if he were 
glad to find that the story was over, and no 
mention made of taking the five-and-twenty 
pounds back again ; and now took courage to 
wipe off the perspiration, which had been trick- 
ling over his nose unchecked during the whole 
of the previous conversation. 

" I know nothing of the story beyond what 
I can guess at," said his wife, addressing 
Monks after a short silence, a and I want to 
know nothing, for it's safer not. But I may 
ask you two questions, may I?" 

" You may ask/' said Monks, with some 
show of surprise, " but whether I answer or 
not is another question." 

u — Which makes three," observed Mr. Bum- 
ble, essaying a stroke of facetiousness. 



OLIVER TWIST. 19 

"Is that what you expected to get from me?" 
demanded the matron. 

• It is/' replied Monks. a The other ques- 
tion?—" 

" What you propose to do with it. Can it 
be used against me )" 

" Never/' rejoined Monks ; " nor against 
me either. See here ; but don't move a step 
forward^ or your life's not worth a bulrush !" 

With these words he suddenly wheeled the 
table aside; and pulling an iron ring in the 
boardings threw back a large trap-door which 
opened close at Mr. Bumble's feet; and caused 
that gentleman to retire several paces backward 
with great precipitation. 

" Look down/' said Monks; lowering the 
lantern into the gulf. i( Don't fear me. I 
could have let you down quietly enough when 
you were seated over it; if that had been my 
game." 

Thus encouraged; the matron drew near to 
the brink; and even Mr. Bumble himself, im- 
pelled by curiosity; ventured to do the same. 
The turbid water; swollen by the heavy rain. 



20 OLIVER TWIST. 

was rushing rapidly on below, and all other 
sounds were lost in the noise of its plashing 
and eddying against the green and slimy piles. 
There had once been a water-mill beneath, and 
the tide, foaming and chafing round the few rot- 
ten stakes, and fragments of machinery, that 
yet remained, seemed to dart onward with a 
new impulse when freed from the obstacles 
which had unavailingly attempted to stem its 
headlong course. 

" If you flung a man's body down there, 
where would it be to-morrow morning ?" said 
Monks, swinging the lantern to and fro in the 
dark well. 

" Twelve miles down the river, and cut to 
pieces besides," replied Bumble, recoiling at the 
very notion. 

Monks drew the little packet from his breast, 
into which he had hurriedly thrust it, and tying 
it firmly to a leaden weight which had formed a 
part of some pulley, and was lying on the floor, 
dropped it into the stream. It fell straight, and 
true as a die, clove the water with a scarcely 
audible splash, and was gone. 




krWi^- 



. 



, 



OLIVER TWIST. 21 

The three looked into each other's faces, and 
seemed to breathe more freely. 

u There !" said Monks, closing the trap-door, 
which fell heavily back into its former position. 
" If the sea ever gives up its dead — as books 
say it will — it will keep its gold and silver to 
itself, and that trash among it. We have no- 
thing more to say, and may break up our 
pleasant party." 

" By all means," observed Mr. Bumble with 
great alacrity. 

a You'll keep a quiet tongue in your head, 
will you?" said Monks, with a threatening 
look. u I am not afraid of your wife/' 

" You may depend upon me, young man," 
answered Mr. Bumble, bowing himself gradu- 
ally towards the ladder with excessive polite- 
ness. " On every body's account, young man ; 
on my own, you know, Mr. Monks." 

" I am glad for your sake to hear it," re- 
marked Monks. " Light your lantern, and get 
away from here as fast as you can." 

It was fortunate that the conversation termi- 
nated at this point, or Mr. Bumble, who had 



22 OLIVER TWIST. 

bowed himself to within six inches of the lad- 
der, would infallibly have pitched headlong into 
the room below. He lighted his lantern from 
that which Monks had detached from the rope, 
and now carried in his hand, and, making no 
effort to prolong the discourse, descended in 
silence, followed by his wife. Monks brought 
up the rear, after pausing on the steps to satisfy 
himself that there were no other sounds to be 
heard than the beating of the rain without, and 
the rushing of the water. 

They traversed the lower room slowly, and 
with caution, for Monks started at every sha- 
dow, and Mr. Bumble, holding his lantern a 
foot above the ground, walked not only with re- 
markable care, but with a marvellously light 
step for a gentleman of his figure : looking ner- 
vously about him for hidden trap-doors. The 
gate at which they had entered was softly un- 
fastened and opened by Monks, and, merely ex- 
changing a nod with their mysterious acquaint- 
ance, the married couple emerged into the wet 
and darkness outside. 

They were no sooner gone, than Monks, who 



OLIVER TWIST. 23 

appeared to entertain an invincible repugnance 
to being left alone, called to a boy who had 
been hidden somewhere below, and bidding him 
go first, and bear the light, returned to the 
chamber he had just quitted. 



24 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

INTRODUCES SOME RESPECTABLE CHARACTERS WITH WHOM 
THE READER IS ALREADY ACQUAINTED, AND SHOWS 
HOW MONKS AND THE JEW LAID THEIR WORTHY HEADS 
TOGETHER. 

It was about two hours earlier on the even- 
ing following that upon which the three wor- 
thies mentioned in the last chapter disposed of 
their little matter of business as therein narrated, 
when Mr. William Sikes, awakening from a 
nap, drowsily growled forth an inquiry what 
time of night it was. 

The room in which Mr. Sikes propounded 
this question was not one of those he had te- 
nanted previous to the Chertsey expedition, 
although it was in the same quarter of the 
town, and was situated at no great distance 
from his former lodgings. It was not in appear- 



OLIVER TWIST. 25 

ance so desirable a habitation as his old quar- 
ters, being a mean and badly-furnished apart- 
ment of very limited size, lighted only by one 
small window in the shelving roof, and abutting 
upon a close and dirty lane. Nor were there 
wanting other indications of the good gentle- 
man's having gone down in the world of late ; 
for a great scarcity of furniture,, and total ab- 
sence of comfort^ together with the disappear- 
ance of all such small moveables as spare clothes 
and linen, bespoke a state of extreme poverty, 
while the meager and attenuated condition of 
Mr. Sikes himself would have fully confirmed 
these symptoms if they had stood in need of 
corroboration. 

The housebreaker was lying on the bed 
wrapped in his white great-coat, by way of 
dressing gown, and displaying a set of features 
in no degree improved by the cadaverous hue of 
illness, and the addition of a soiled nightcap, 
and a stiff, black beard of a week's growth. 
The dog sat at the bedside, now eyeing his 
master with a wistful look, and now pricking 

VOL. III. c 



26 OLIVER TWIST. 

his ears, and uttering a low growl as some noise 
in the street, or in the lower part of the house, 
attracted his attention. Seated by the win- 
dow, busily engaged in patching an old waist- 
coat which formed a portion of the robber's 
ordinary dress, was a female, so pale and re- 
duced with watching and privation that there 
would have been considerable difficulty in re- 
cognising her as the same Nancy who has 
already figured in this tale, but for the voice in 
which she replied to Mr. Sikes's question. 

rt Not long gone seven," said the girl. " How 
do you feel to-night, Bill ?" 

" As weak as water," replied Mr. Sikes, with 
an imprecation on his eyes and limbs. " Here ; 
lend us a hand, and let me get off this thun- 
dering bed, anyhow." 

Illness had not improved Mr. Sikes's temper, 
for, as the girl raised him up, and led him to a 
chair, he muttered various curses upon her 
awkwardness, and struck her. 

" Whining, are you V 9 said Sikes. u Come ; 
don't stand snivelling there. If you can't do 



OLIVER TWIST. 27 

any thing better than that, cut off altogether. 
D'ye hear me?" 

" I hear you," replied the girl, turning her 
face aside, and forcing a laugh. " What fancy 
have you got in your head now ?" 

u Oh ! you've thought better of it, have 
you ?" growled Sikes, marking the tear which 
trembled in her eye. " All the better for you, 
you have." 

u Why, you don't mean to say you'd be hard 
upon me to-night, Bill," said the girl, laying 
her hand upon his shoulder. 

« No !" cried Mr. Sikes. « Why not ?" 

" Such a number of nights," said the girl, 
with a touch of woman's tenderness, which com- 
municated something like sweetness of tone 
even to her voice, — i£ such a number of nights 
as I've been patient with you, nursing and 
caring for you, as if you had been a child, and 
this the first that I've seen you like yourself; 
you wouldn't have served me as you did just 
now, if you'd thought of that, would you? Come, 
come; say you wouldn't." 
c 2 



28 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Well, then," rejoined Mr. Sikes. « I 
wouldn't. Why, damme, now, the girl's whining 
again !" 

" It's nothing," said the girl, throwing herself 
into a chair. u Don't you seem to mind me, 
and it'll soon be over." 

" Whatll be over ?" demanded Mr. Sikes in 
a savage voice. tt What foolery are you up to 
now again? Get up, and bustle about, and 
don't come over me with your woman's non- 
sense." 

At any other time this remonstrance, and the 
tone in which it was delivered, would have had 
the desired effect; but the girl being really 
weak and exhausted, dropped her head over the 
back of the chair, and fainted, before Mr. Sikes 
could get out a few of the appropriate oaths 
with which on similar occasions he was accus- 
tomed to garnish his threats. Not knowing 
very well what to do in this uncommon emer- 
gency, for Miss Nancy's hysterics were usually 
of that violent kind which the patient fights 
and struggles out of without much assistance, 



OLIVER TWIST. 29 

Mr. Sikes tried a little blasphemy, and finding 
that mode of treatment wholly ineffectual, called 
for assistance. 

" What's the matter here, my dear ?" said the 
Jew, looking in. 

" Lend a hand to the girl, can't you ?" replied 
Sikes impatiently, " and don't stand chattering 
and grinning at me !" 

With an exclamation of surprise Fagin has- 
tened to the girl's assistance, while Mr. John 
Dawkins (otherwise the Artful Dodger), who 
had followed his venerable friend into the room, 
hastily deposited on the floor a bundle with 
which he was laden, and, snatching a bottle 
from the grasp of Master Charles Bates w r ho 
came close at his heels, uncorked it in a twink- 
ling with his teeth, and poured a portion of its 
contents down the patient's throat ; previously 
taking a taste himself to prevent mistakes. 

" Give her a whiff of fresh air with thft 
bellows, Charley," said Mr. Dawkins; "and 
you slap her hands, Fagin, while Bill undoes 
the petticuts." 



30 OLIVER TAVIST. 

These united restoratives, administered with 
great energy, especially that department con- 
signed to Master Bates, who appeared to con- 
sider his share in the proceeding a piece of 
unexampled pleasantry, were not long in pro- 
ducing the desired effect. The girl gradually 
recovered her senses, and, staggering to a chair 
by the bedside, hid her face upon the pillow, 
leaving Mr. Sikes to confront the new-comers, 
in some astonishment at their unlooked-for 
appearance. 

u Why, what evil wind has blowed you here ?" 
he asked of Fagin. 

" No evil wind at all, my dear/ 5 replied the 
Jew ; " for ill winds blow nobody any good, and 
I've brought something good with me that 
you'll be glad to see. Dodger, my dear, open 
the bundle, and give Bill the little trifles that 
we spent all our money on this morning." 

In compliance with Mr. Fagin's request, the 
Artful untied his bundle, which was of large 
size, and formed of an old tablecloth, and 
handed the articles it contained, one by one, to 




wmi ^JM%9a^j 






OLIVER TWIST. 31 

Charley Bates, who placed them on the table, 
with various encomiums on their rarity and 
excellence. 

u Sitch a rabbit pie, Bill !" exclaimed that 
young gentleman, disclosing to view a huge 
pasty ; " sitch delicate creeturs, with sitch 
tender limbs, Bill, that the wery bones melt 
in your mouth, and there's no occasion to 
pick 'em ; half a pound of seven and sixpenny 
green, so precious strong that if you mix it 
with boiling water, it'll go nigh to blow the lid 
of the teapot off; a pound and a half of moist 
sugar that the niggers didn't work at all at afore 
they got it to sitch a pitch of goodness, — oh 
no ! two half-quartern brans ; pound of best 
fresh ; piece of double Glo'ster ; and, to wind 
up all, some of the richest sort you ever 
lushed." Uttering this last panegyric, Master 
Bates produced from one of his extensive 
pockets a full - sized wine - bottle, carefully 
corked, while Mr. Dawkins at the same in- 
stant poured out a wine glassful of raw spirits 
from the bottle he carried, which the invalid 



32 OLIVER TWIST. 

tossed down his throat without a moment's 
hesitation. 

tt Ah !" said the Jew, rubbing his hands 
with great satisfaction. " You'll do, Bill ; 
you'll do now." 

* Do !" exclaimed Mr. Sikes ; " I might 
have been done for twenty times over, afore 
you'd have done any thing to help me. What 
do you mean by leaving a man in this state 
three w T eeks and more, you false-hearted waga- 
bond ?" 

" Only hear him, boys !" said the Jew, shrug- 
ging his shoulders ; " and us come to bring him 
all these beautiful things." 

"The things is w r ell enough in their way," 
observed Mr. Sikes, a little soothed as he 
glanced over the table ; " but what have you 
got to say for yourself why you should leave 
me here, down in the mouth, health, blunt, 
and every thing else, and take no more notice 
of me all this mortal time than if I was that 
'ere dog. — Drive him down, Charley." 

" I never see such a jolly dog as that," cried 



OLIVER TWIST. 33 

Master Bates, doing as he was desired. " Smell- 
ing the grub like a old lady a-going to market ! 
He'd make his for tun on the stage that dog 
would, and rewive the drayma besides." 

" Hold your din/' cried Sikes, as the dog- 
retreated under the bed, still growling angrily. 
u And what have you got to say for yourself, 
you withered old fence, eh V 9 

" I was away from London a week and more, 
my dear, on a plant," replied the Jew. 

" And what about the other fortnight }" de- 
manded Sikes. " What about the other fort- 
night that you've left me lying here, like a sick 
rat in his hole }" 

" I couldn't help it, Bill," replied the Jew. 
a I can't go into a long explanation before 
company; but I couldn't help it, upon my 
honour." 

" Upon your what ?" growled Sikes with 
excessive disgust. " Here, cut me off a piece 
of the pie, one of you boys, to take the taste 
of that out of my mouth, or it'll choke me 
dead." 

" Don't be out of temper, my dear," urged 
c 5 



34 OLIVER TWIST. 

the Jew submissively. " I have never forgot 
you, Bill; never once/' 

" No, I'll pound it, that you han't/' replied 
Sikes with a bitter grin. " You've been schem- 
ing and plotting away every hour that I've laid 
shivering and burning here ; and Bill was to do 
this, and Bill was to do that, and Bill was to do 
it all dirt cheap, as soon as he got well, and was 
quite poor enough for your work. If it hadn't 
been for the girl, I might have died." 

" There now, Bill," remonstrated the Jew, 
eagerly catching at the word. " If it hadn't 
been for the girl ! Who was the means of your 
having such a handy girl about you but me ?" 

u He says true enough there, God knows !" 
said Nancy, coming hastily forward. " Let him 
be, let him be." 

Nancy's appearance gave a new turn to the 
conversation, for the boys, receiving a sly wink 
from the wary old Jew, began to ply her with 
liquor, of which, however, she partook very 
sparingly; while Fagin, assuming an unusual 
flow of spirits, gradually brought Mr. Sikes 
into a better temper, by affecting to regard his 



OLIVER TWIST. 35 

threats as a little pleasant banter, and, more- 
over, laughing very heartily at one or two rough 
jokes, which, after repeated applications to the 
spirit-bottle, he condescended to make. 

" It's all very well," said Mr. Sikes ; " but I 
must have some blunt from you to-night." 

" I haven't a piece of coin about me," replied 
the Jew. 

"Then you've got lots at. home," retorted 
Sikes, " and I must have some from there." 

"Lots!" cried the Jew, holding up his 
hands. " I haven't so much as would " 

" I don't know how much you've got, and I 
dare say you hardly know yourself, as it would 
take a pretty long time to count it," said Sikes; 
but I must have some to-night, and that's 
flat." 

"Well, well," said the Jew, with a sigh, 
" I'll send the Artful round presently." 

" You won't do nothing of the kind," rejoined 
Mr. Sikes. "The Artful's a deal too artful, 
and would forget to come, or lose his way, or 
get dodged by traps and so be perwented, or 
any thing for an excuse, if you put him up to 



36 OLIVER TWIST. 

it. Nancy shall go to the ken and fetch it, to 
make all sure, and Til lie down and have a 
snooze while she's gone." 

After a great deal of haggling and squabbling, 
the Jew beat down the amount of the required 
advance from five pounds to three pounds four 
and sixpence, protesting with many solemn 
asseverations that that would only leave him 
eighteenpence to keep house with ; Mr. Sikes 
sullenly remarking that if he couldn't get any 
more he must be content with that, Nancy pre- 
pared to accompany him home ; while the Dodger 
and Master Bates put the eatables in the cup- 
board. The Jew then, taking leave of his affec- 
tionate friend, returned homewards, attended by 
Nancy and the boys, Mr. Sikes meanwhile 
flinging himself on the bed, and composing 
himself to sleep away the time until the young 
lady's return. 

In due time they arrived at the Jew's abode, 
where they found Toby Crackit and Mr. Chit- 
ling intent upon their fifteenth game at cribbage, 
which it is scarcely necessary to say the latter 
gentleman lost, and with it his fifteenth and 



OLIVER TWIST. 37 

last sixpence, much to the amusement of his 
young friends. Mr. Crackit, apparently some- 
what ashamed at being found relaxing himself 
with a gentleman so much his inferior in station 
and mental endowments, yawned, and, inquiring 
after Sikes, took up his hat to go. 

kV Has nobody been, Toby ?" asked the Jew. 

" Not a living leg," answered Mr. Crackit, 
pulling up his collar: "it's been as dull as 
swipes. You ought to stand something hand- 
some, Fagin, to recompense me for keeping 
house so long. Damme, I'm as flat as a jury- 
man, and should have gone to sleep as fast as 
Newgate, if I hadn't had the good natur' to 
amuse this youngster. Horrid dull, I'm blessed 
if I an't." 

With these and other ejaculations of the same 
kind, Mr. Toby Crackit swept up his winnings, 
and crammed them into his waistcoat pocket 
with a haughty air, as though such small pieces 
of silver were wholly beneath the consideration 
of a man of his figure, and swaggered out of the 
room with so much elegance and gentility, that 
Mr. Chitling, bestowing numerous admiring 



38 OLIVER TWIST. 

glances on his legs and boots till they were out 
of sight, assured the company that he considered 
his acquaintance cheap at fifteen sixpences an 
interview, and that he didn't value his losses the 
snap of a little finger. 

" Wot a rum chap you are, Tom !" said 
Master Bates, highly amused by this declara- 
tion. 

" Not a bit of it," replied Mr. Chitling : " am 
I, Fagin?" 

" A very clever fellow, my dear," said the 
Jew, patting him on the shoulder, and winking 
to his other pupils. 

ec And Mr. Crackit is a heavy swell, an't he, 
Fagin?" asked Tom. 

" No doubt at all of that, my dear," replied 
the Jew. 

u And it is a creditable thing to have his ac- 
quaintance, an't it, Fagin ?" pursued Tom. 

"Very much so, indeed, my dear," replied 
the Jew. " They're only jealous, Tom, because 
he won't give it to them." 

"Ah!" cried Tom, triumphantly, "that's 
where it is. He has cleaned me out; but I can 



OLIVER TWIST. 39 

go and earn some more when I like, — can't I, 
Fagin ?" 

"To be sure you can/' replied the Jew; 
" and the sooner you go, the better, Tom ; so 
make up your loss at once, and don't lose any 
more time. Dodger, Charley, it's time you 
were on the lay: — come, it's near ten, and 
nothing done yet." 

In obedience to this hint, the boys, nodding 
to Nancy, took up their hats and left the room ; 
the Dodger and his vivacious friend indulging 
as they went in many witticisms at the expense 
of Mr. Chitling, in whose conduct, it is but 
justice to say, there was nothing very conspi- 
cuous or peculiar, inasmuch as there are a great 
number of spirited young bloods upon town 
who pay a much higher price than Mr. Chitling 
for being seen in good society, and a great 
number of fine gentlemen (composing the good 
society aforesaid) who establish their reputation 
upon very much the same footing as flash Toby 
Crackit. 

" Now," said the Jew, when they had left the 
room, " I'll go and get you that cash, Nancy. 



40 OLIVER TWIST. 

This is only the key of a little cupboard where 
I keep a few odd things the boys get, my dear. 
I never lock up my money, for I've got none to 
lock up, my dear — ha ! ha ! ha ! — none to lock. 
It's a poor trade, Nancy, and no thanks ; but 
I'm fond of seeing the young people about me, 
and I bear it all; I bear it all. Hush I" he 
said, hastily concealing the key in his breast ; 
( ' who's that ? Listen !" 

The girl, who was sitting at the table with 
her arms folded, appeared in no way interested 
in the arrival, or to care whether the person, 
whoever he was, came or went, until the mur- 
mur of a man's voice reached her ears. The 
instant she caught the sound she tore off her 
bonnet and shawl with the rapidity of lightning, 
and thrust them under the table. The Jew 
turning round immediately afterwards, she mut- 
tered a complaint of the heat in a tone of lan- 
guor that contrasted very remarkably with the 
extreme haste and violence of this action, 
which, however, had been unobserved by 
Fagin, who had his back towards her at the 
time. 



OLIVER TWIST. 41 

u Bah ! M whispered the Jew, as though net- 
tled by the interruption ; £( it's the man I ex- 
pected before ; he's coming down stairs. Not 
a word about the money while he's here, 
Nance. He won't stop long — not ten minutes, 
my dear." 

Laying his skinny forefinger upon his lip, 
the Jew carried a candle to the door as a man's 
step was heard upon the stairs without, and 
reached it at the same moment as the visiter, 
who coming hastily into the room, was close 
upon the girl before he observed her. 

It was Monks. 

" Only one of my young people," said the 
Jew, observing that Monks drew back on be- 
holding a stranger. " Don't move, Nancy." 

The girl drew closer to the table, and glanc- 
ing at Monks with an air of careless levity, 
withdrew her eyes ; but as he turned his to- 
wards the Jew, she stole another look, so keen 
and searching, and full of purpose, that if there 
had been any bystander to observe the change 
he could hardly have believed the two looks to 
have proceeded from the same person. 



42 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Any news V 9 inquired the Jew. 

" Great." 

"And — and — good?" asked the Jew hesi- 
tatingly, as though he feared to vex the other 
man by being too sanguine. 

" Not bad any way/' replied Monks with a 
smile. " I have been prompt enough this 
time. Let me have a word with you." 

The girl drew closer to the table, and made 
no offer to leave the room, although she could 
see that Monks was pointing to her. The Jew 
— perhaps fearing that she might say something 
aloud about the money, if he endeavoured to get 
rid of her — pointed upwards, and took Monks 
out of the room. 

a Not that infernal hole we were in before," 
she could hear the man say as they went up- 
stairs. The Jew laughed, and making some 
reply which did not reach her, seemed by the 
creaking of the boards to lead his companion to 
the second story. 

Before the sound of their footsteps had 
ceased to echo through the house, the girl had 
slipped off her shoes, and drawing her gown 



OLIVER TWIST. 43 

loosely over her head, and muffling her arms in 
it, stood at the door listening with breathless 
interest. The moment the noise ceased she 
glided from the room, ascended the stairs with 
incredible softness and silence, and was lost in 
the gloom above. 

The room remained deserted for a quarter of 
an hour or more ; the girl glided back with the 
same unearthly tread; and immediately after- 
wards the two men were heard descending. 
Monks went at once into the street, and the 
Jew crawled up stairs again for the money. 
When he returned, the girl was adjusting 
her shawl and bonnet, as if preparing to be 
gone. 

" Why, Nance," exclaimed the Jew, starting 
back as he put down the candle, " how pale 
you are I" 

" Pale \" echoed the girl, shading her eyes 
with her hands as if to look steadily at him. 

" Quite horrible/' said the Jew. " What 
have you been doing to yourself ?" 

" Nothing that I know of, except sitting in 
this close place for 1 don^t know how long and 



44 OLIVER TWIST. 

all/' replied the girl carelessly. " Come, let 
me get back ; that's a dear." 

With a sigh for every piece of money, Fagin 
told the amount into her hand, and they parted 
without more conversation than interchanging 
a * good-night." 

When the girl got into the open street she 
sat down upon a door-step, and seemed for a 
few moments wholly bewildered and unable to 
pursue her way. Suddenly she arose, and hur- 
rying on in a direction quite opposite to that in 
which Sikes was awaiting her return, quickened 
her pace, until it gradually resolved into a vio- 
lent run. After completely exhausting herself, 
she stopped to take breath, and, as if suddenly 
recollecting herself, and deploring her inability 
to do something she was bent upon, wrung her 
hands, and burst into tears. 

It might be that her tears relieved her, or 
that she felt the full hopelessness of her condi- 
tion ; but she turned back, and hurrying with 
nearly as great rapidity in the contrary direc- 
tion, partly to recover lost time, and partly to 
keep pace with the violent current of her own 



OLIVER TWIST. 45 

thoughts, soon reached the dwelling where she 
had left the housebreaker. 

If she betrayed any agitation by the time she 
presented herself to Mr. Sikes, he did not ob- 
serve it ; for merely inquiring if she had brought 
the money, aud receiving a reply in the affirm- 
ative, he uttered a growl of satisfaction, and re- 
placing his head upon his pillow, resumed the 
slumbers which her arrival had interrupted. 



46 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

A STRANGE INTERVIEW, WHICH IS A SEQUEL TO THE LAST 
CHAPTER. 

It was fortunate for the girl that the posses- 
sion of money occasioned Mr. Sikes so much 
employment next day in the way of eating and 
drinking, and withal had so beneficial an effect 
in smoothing down the asperities of his temper 
that he had neither time nor inclination to be 
very critical upon her behaviour and deport- 
ment. That she had all the abstracted and 
nervous manner of one who is on the eve of 
some bold and hazardous step, which it has 
required no common struggle to resolve upon, 
would have been obvious to his lynx-eyed 
friend, the Jew, who would most probably have 
taken the alarm at once ; but Mr. Sikes lacking 



OLIVER TWIST. 47 

the niceties of discrimination, and being trou- 
bled with no more subtle misgivings than those 
which resolve themselves into a dogged rough- 
ness of behaviour towards every body, and 
being, furthermore, in an unusually amiable 
condition, as has been already observed, saw 
nothing unusual in her demeanour, and indeed, 
troubled himself so little about her, that, had 
her agitation been far more perceptible than it 
was, it would have been very unlikely to have 
awakened his suspicions. 

As the day closed in, the girPs excitement 
increased, and, when night came on, and she 
sat by, watching till the housebreaker should 
drink himself asleep, there was an unusual 
paleness in her cheek, and fire in her eye, that 
even Sikes observed with astonishment. 

Mr. Sikes, being weak from the fever, was 
lying in bed, taking hot water with his gin to 
render it less inflammatory, and had pushed his 
glass towards Nancy to be replenished for the 
third or fourth time, when these symptoms first 
struck him. 

ei Why, burn my body !" said the man, 



48 OLIVER TWIST. 

raising himself on his hands as he stared the 
girl in the face. <e You look like a corpse come 
to life again. What's the matter ?" 

"Matter!" replied the girl. "Nothing. What 
do you look at me so hard for ?" 

" What foolery is this V? demanded Sikes, 
grasping her by the arm, and shaking her 
roughly. " What is it ? What do you mean ? 
What are you thinking of, ha ?" 

"Of many things, Bill/* replied the girl, 
shuddering, and as she did so, pressing her 
hands upon her eyes. " But, Lord ! what odds 
in that ?" 

The tone of forced gaiety in which the last 
words were spoken seemed to produce a deeper 
impression on Sikes than the wild and rigid 
look which had preceded them. 

" I tell you wot it is," said Sikes, " if you 
haven't caught the fever, and got it comin' on 
now, there's something more than usual in the 
wind, and something dangerous, too. You're 

not a-going to No, damme ! you wouldn't 

do that !" 

"Do what ?" asked the girl. 



OLIVER TWIST. 49 

" There ain't," said Sikes, fixing his eyes 
upon her, and muttering the words to him- 
self, " there ain't a stauncher-hearted gal going, 
or I'd have cut her throat three months ago. 
She's got the fever coming on ; tha^s it." 

Fortifying himself with this assurance, Sikes 
drained the glass to the bottom, and then, with 
many grumbling oaths, called for his physic. 
The girl jumped up with great alacrity, poured 
it quickly out, but with her back towards him : 
and held the vessel to his lips, while he drank 
it off. 

" Now/' said the robber, " come and sit 
aside of me, and put on your own face, or I'll 
alter it so that you won't know it again when 
you do want it." 

The girl obeyed, and Sikes, locking her hand 
in his, fell back upon the pillow, turning his 
eyes upon her face. They closed, opened again ; 
closed once more, again opened; the house- 
breaker shifted his position restlessly, and, 
after dozing again and again for two or three 
minutes, and as often springing up with a look 
of terror, and gazing vacantly about him, was 

VOL. III. d 



50 OLIVER TWIST. 

suddenly stricken, as it were, while in the very 
attitude of rising, into a deep and heavy sleep. 
The grasp of his hand relaxed, the upraised arm 
fell languidly by his side, and he lay like one in 
a profound trance. 

(i The laudanum has taken effect at last," 
murmured the girl as she rose from the bedside. 
Ci I may be too late even now." 

She hastily dressed herself in her bonnet and 
shawl, looking fearfully round from time to 
time as if, despite the sleeping draught, she 
expected every moment to feel the pressure of 
Sikes's heavy hand upon her shoulder; then 
stooping softly over the bed, she kissed the 
robber's lips, and opening and closing the 
room-door with noiseless touch, hurried from 
the house. 

A watchman was crying half-past nine down 
a dark passage tnrough which she had to pass 
in gaining the main thoroughfare. 

" Has it long gone the half-hour V s asked the 
girl. 

ei It'll strike the hour in another quarter," 
said, the man, raising his lantern to her face. 



OLIVER TWIST. 51 

ee And I cannot get there in less than an 
hour or more/' muttered Nancy, brushing 
swiftly past him and gliding rapidly down the 
street. 

Many of the shops were already closing in 
the back lanes and avenues through which she 
tracked her way in making from Spitalfields 
towards the West-End of London. The clock 
struck ten, increasing her impatience. She tore 
along the narrow pavement, elbowing the pas- 
sengers from side to side and darting almost 
under the horses' heads, crossed crowded 
streets, where clusters of persons were eagerly 
watching their opportunity to do the like. 

u The woman is mad !** said the people, 
turning to look after her as she rushed away. 

When she reached the more wealthy quarter 
of the town, the streets were comparatively 
deserted, and here her headlong progress 
seemed to excite a greater curiosity in the 
stragglers whom she hurried past. Some 
quickened their pace behind, as though to 
see ^whither she was hastening at such an 
d 2 



52 OLIVER TWIST. 

unusual rate ; and a few made head upon her, 
and looked back, surprised at her undiminished 
speed, but they fell off one by one ; and when 
she neared her place of destination she was 
alone. 

It was a family hotel in a quiet but handsome 
street near Hyde Park. As the brilliant light 
of the lamp which burnt before its door guided 
her to the spot, the clock struck eleven. She 
had loitered for a few paces as though ir- 
resolute, and making up her mind to advance ; 
but the sound determined her, and she stepped 
into the hall. The porter's seat was vacant. 
She looked round with an air of incertitude, 
and advanced towards the stairs. 

"Now, young woman/ 5 said a smartly- 
dressed female, looking out from a door be- 
hind her, " who do you want here ?" 

" A lady who is stopping in this house," 
answered the girl. 

" A lady !" was the reply, accompanied with 
a scornful look. " What lady, pray ?" 

" Miss Maylie," said Nancy. 



OLIVER TWIST. 53 

The young woman, who had by this time 
noted her appearance, replied only by a look 
of virtuous disdain, and summoned a man to 
answer her. To him Nancy repeated her re- 
quest. 

ei What name am I to say ?" asked the 
waiter. 

Ci It's of no use saying any," replied Nancy. 

ee Nor business 1" said the man. 

Cf No, nor that neither," rejoined the girl. 
" I must see the lady." 

" Come," said the man, pushing her towards 
the door, Ci none of this ! Take yourself off, 
will you V 9 

ee I shall be carried out if I go !" said the 
girl violently, " and I can make that a job that 
two of you won't like to do. Isn't there any 
body here," she said, looking round, "that 
will see a simple message carried for a poor 
wretch like me ?" 

This appeal produced an effect on a good- 
tempered-faced man-cook, who with some other 
of the servants was looking on, and who 
stepped forward to interfere. 



54 OLIVER TWIS1. 

" Take it up for her, Joe, can't you ?" said 
this person. 

" What's the good V s replied the man. u You 
don't suppose the young lady will see such as 
her, do you?" 

This allusion to Nancy's douhtful character 
raised a vast quantity of chaste wrath in the 
bosoms of four housemaids, who remarked with 
great fervour that the creature was a disgrace 
to her sex, and strongly advocated her being 
thrown ruthlessly into the kennel. 

" Do what you like with me," said the girl, 
turning to the men again ; " but do what I ask 
you first ; and I ask you to give this message 
for God Almighty's sake." 

The soft-hearted cook added his intercession, 
and the result was that the man who had first 
appeared undertook its delivery. 

" What's it to be ?" said the man, with one 
foot on the stairs. 

" That a young woman earnestly asks to 
speak to Miss Maylie alone," said Nancy; 
" and, that if the lady will only hear the first 
word she has to say, she will know whether to 



OLIVER TWIST. 55 

hear her business, or have her turned out of 
doors as an impostor." 

ci I say/' said the man, " you're coming it 
strong !" 

" You give the message," said the girl firmly, 
a and let me hear the answer." 

The man ran up stairs, and Nancy remained 
pale and almost breathless, listening with qui- 
vering lip to the very audible expressions of 
scorn, of which the chaste housemaids were 
very prolific ; and became still more so when 
the man returned, and said the young woman 
was to walk up stairs. 

" It's no good being proper in this world," 
said the first housemaid. 

* Brass can do better than the gold what has 
stood the fire," said the second. 

The third contented herself with wondering 
"what ladies was made of;" and the fourth 
took the first in a quartette of " Shameful !" 
with which the Dianas concluded. 

Regardless of all this — for she had weightier 
matters at heart — Nancy followed the man with 
trembling limbs to a small antechamber, lighted 



56 OLIVER TWIST. 

by a lamp from the ceiling, in which he left 
her, and retired. 

The girl's life had been squandered in the 
streets, and the most noisome of the stews and 
dens of London, but there was something of 
the woman's original nature left in her still; 
and when she heard a light step approaching 
the door opposite to that by which she had 
entered^ and thought of the wide contrast 
which the small room would in another mo- 
ment contain, she felt burdened with the sense 
of her own deep shame, and shrunk as though 
she could scarcely bear the presence of her 
with whom she had sought this interview. 

But struggling with these better feelings w r as 
pride, — the vice of the lowest and most de- 
based creatures no less than of the high and 
self-assured. The miserable companion of 
thieves and ruffians, the fallen outcast of low 
haunts, the associate of the scourings of the 
jails and hulks, living within the shadow of the 
gallows itself, — even this degraded being felt 
too proud to betray one feeble gleam of the wo- 
manly feeling which she thought a weakness, but 



OLIVER TWIST. 57 

which alone connected her with that humanity, 
of which her wasting life had obliterated all 
outward traces when a very child. 

She raised her eyes sufficiently to observe 
that the figure which presented itself was that 
of a slight and beautiful girl, and then bending 
them on the ground, tossed her head with 
affected carelessness as she said, 

Ci It's a hard matter to get to see you, 
lady. If I had taken offence, and gone away, 
as many would have done, you'd have been 
sorry for it one day, and not without reason, 
either." 

" I am very sorry if any one has behaved 
harshly to you," replied Rose. " Do not think 
of it ; but tell me why you wished to see me. I 
am the person you inquired for." 

The kind tone of this answer, the sweet 
voice, the gentle manner, the absence of any 
accent of haughtiness or displeasure, took the 
girl completely by surprise, and she burst into 
tears. 

" Oh, lady, lady !" she said, clasping her 
hands passionately before her face, " if there 
d 3 



58 OLIVER TWIST. 

was more like you, there would be fewer like 
me, — there would — there would I" 

" Sit down/ 5 said Rose earnestly ; " you dis- 
tress me. If you are in poverty or affliction I 
shall be truly happy to relieve you if I can, — I 
shall indeed. Sit down." 

a Let me stand, lady/' said the girl, still 
weeping, i( and do not speak to me so kindly 
till you know me better. It is growing late. 
Is — is — that door shut ?" 

" Yes/ 5 said Rose, recoiling a few steps, as if 
to be nearer assistance in case she should re- 
quire it. "Why?" 

(e Because/ 5 said the girl, " I am about to 
put my life and the lives of others in your 
hands. I am the girl that dragged little Oliver 
back to old Fagin's, the Jew's, on the night he 
went out from the house in Pentonville." 

" You !" said Rose Maylie. 

" I, lady," replied the girl. " I am the infa- 
mous creature you have heard of, that lives 
among the thieves, and that never from the 
first moment I can recollect my eyes and senses 
opening on London streets have known any 



OLIVER TWIST. 59 

better life, or kinder words than they have 
given me, so help me God ! Do not mind 
shrinking openly from me, lady. I am younger 
than you would think, to look at me, but I am 
well used to it; the poorest women fall back 
as I make my way along the crowded pave- 
ment." 

" What dreadful things are these !" said 
Rose, involuntarily falling from her strange 
companion. 

" Thank Heaven upon your knees, dear 
lady," cried the girl, " that you had friends to 
care for and keep you in your childhood, and 
that you were never in the midst of cold and 
hunger, and riot and drunkenness, and — and 
something worse than all — as I have been from 
my cradle ; I may use the word, for the alley 
and the gutter were mine, as they will be my 
deathbed. " 

u I pity you !" said Rose in a broken voice. 
" It wrings my heart to hear you !" 

" God bless you for your goodness !" re- 
joined the girl. " If you knew what I am some- 
times you would pity me, indeed. But I have 



60 OLIVER TWIST. 

stolen away from those who would surely mur- 
der me if they knew I had been here to tell you 
what I have overheard. Do you know a man 
named Monks ?" 

" No," said Rose. 

"He knows you," replied the girl ; "and 
knew you were here, for it was by hearing him 
tell the place that I found you out. r> 

" T never heard the name," said Rose. 

" Then he goes by some other amongst us," 
rejoined the girl, ec which I more than thought 
before. Some time ago, and soon after Oliver 
was put into your house on the night of the 
robbery, I — suspecting this man — listened to a 
conversation held between him and Fagin in 
the dark. I found out from what T heard 
that Monks — the man I asked you about, you 
know — " 

" Yes," said Rose, " I understand." 

" — That Monks," pursued the girl, " had 
seen him accidentally with two of our boys on 
the day we first lost him, and had known him 
directly to be the same child that he was watch- 
ing for, though I couldn't make out why. A 



OLIVER TWIST. 61 

bargain was struck with Fagin, that if Oliver 
was got back he should have a certain sum ; and 
he was to have more for making him a thief, 
which this Monks wanted for some purpose of 
his own." 

" For what purpose?" asked Rose. 

" He caught sight of my shadow on the wall 
as I listened in the hope of finding out/' said 
the girl ; " and there are not many people be- 
sides me that could have got out of their way in 
time to escape discovery. But I did; and I 
saw him no more till last night." 

" And what occurred then ?" 

" I'll tell you, lady. Last night he came 
again. Again they went up stairs, and J, wrap- 
ping myself up so that my shadow should not 
betray me, again listened at the door. The 
first words I heard Monks say were these : c So 
the only proofs of the boy's identity lie at the 
bottom of the river, and the old hag that re- 
ceived them from the mother is rotting in her 
coffin.' They laughed, and talked of his suc- 
cess in doing this; and Monks, talking on 
about the boy, and getting very wild, said, that 



62 OLIVER TWIST. 

though he had got the young devil's money 
safely now, he'd rather have had it the other 
way ; for, what a game it would have been to 
have brought down the boast of the father's 
will, by driving him through every jail in 
town, and then hauling him up for some capi- 
tal felony, which Fagin could easily manage, 
after having made a good profit of him be- 
sides." 

" What is all this I" said Rose. 

a The truth, lady, though it comes from my 
lips," replied the girl. "Then he said with 
oaths common enough in my ears, but stran- 
gers to yours, that if he could gratify his ha- 
tred by taking the boy's life without bringing 
his own neck in danger, he would ; but, as he 
couldn't, he'd be upon the watch to meet him 
at every turn in life and if he took advantage of 
his birth and history, he might harm him yet. 
c In short, Fagin,' he says, ' Jew as you are, 
you never laid such snares as I'll contrive for 
my young brother, Oliver.' " 

" His brother !" exclaimed Rose, clasping 
her hands. 



OLIVER TWIST. 63 

" Those were his words," said Nancy, 
glancing uneasily round, as she had scarcely 
ceased to do, since she began to speak, for a 
vision of Sikes haunted her perpetually. " And 
more. When he spoke of you and the other 
lady, and said it seemed contrived by Heaven, 
or the devil, against him, that Oliver should 
come into your hands, he laughed, and said 
there was some comfort in that too, for how 
many thousands and hundreds of thousands of 
pounds would you not give, if you had them, 
to know who your two-legged spaniel was/' 

" You do not mean," said Rose, turning 
very pale, "to tell me that this was said in 
earnest." 

" He spoke in hard and angry earnest, if a 
man ever did," replied the girl, shaking her 
head. " He is an earnest man when his hatred 
is up. I know many who do worse things ; but 
Pd rather listen to them all a dozen times than 
to that Monks once. It is growing late, and I 
have to reach home without suspicion of having 
been on such an errand as this. I must get 
back quickly." 



64 OLIVER TWIST. 

" But what can I do?" said Rose. "To 
what use can I turn this communication with- 
out you ? Back ! Why do you wish to return 
to companions you paint in such terrible co- 
lours. If you repeat this information to a gen- 
tleman whom I can summon in one instant 
from the next room, you can be consigned to 
some place of safety without half an hour's de- 
lay. 

" I wish to go back/' said the girl. ee I must 
go back, because — how can I tell such things 
to an innocent lady like you ? — because among 
the men I have told you of, there is one the 
most desperate among them all that I can't 
leave ; no — not even to be saved from the life I 
am leading now." 

ei Your having interfered in this dear boy's 
behalf before/' said Rose ; " your coming here 
at so great a risk to tell me what you have 
heard ; your manner, which convinces me of 
the truth of what you say; your evident contri- 
tion, and sense of shame, all lead me to believe 
that you might be yet reclaimed. Oh !" said 
the earnest girl, folding her hands as the tears 



OLIVER TWIST. 65 

coursed down her face, " do not turn a deaf ear to 
the entreaties of one of your own sex ; the first — 
the first, I do believe, who ever appealed to you 
in the voice of pity and compassion. Do hear 
my words, and let me save you yet for better 
things. " 

(i Lady," cried the girl, sinking on her knees, 
a dear, sweet, angel lady, you are the first that 
ever blessed me with such words as these, and 
if I had heard them years ago, they might have 
turned me from a life of sin and sorrow ; but it 
is too late — it is too late !" 

" It is never too late," said Rose, u for peni- 
tence and atonement." 

" It is,' 1 cried the girl, writhing in the agony 
of her mind ; Ci I cannot leave him now — I could 
not be his death." 

K Why should you be ?" asked Rose. 

" Nothing could save him," cried the girl. 
ee If I told others what I have told you, and led 
to their being taken, he would be sure to die. 
He is the boldest, and has been so cruel !" 

" Is it possible," cried Rose, " that for such 
a man as this you can resign every future hope, 



66 OLIVER TWIST. 

and the certainty of immediate rescue ? It is 
madness." 

a I don't know what it is/ 5 answered the girl ; 
"I only know that it is so, and not with me alone, 
but with hundreds of others as bad and wretched 
as myself. I must go back. Whether it is 
God's wrath for the wrong I have done, I do 
not know ; but I am drawn back to him through 
every suffering and ill usage, and should be, I 
believe, if I knew that I was to die by his hand 
at last." 

" What am I to do V 9 said Rose. « I should 
not let you depart from me thus." 

" You should, lady, and I know you will," 
rejoined the girl, rising. "You will not stop 
my going because I have trusted in your good- 
ness, and forced no promise from you, as I 
might have done." 

"Of what use, then, is the communication 
you have made?" said Rose. " This mystery 
must be investigated, or how will its disclosure 
to me benefit Oliver, whom you are anxious to 
serve?" 

a You must have some kind gentleman about 



OLIVER TWIST. 67 

you that will hear it as a secret, and advise you 
what to do/* rejoined the girl. 

" But where can I find you again when it is 
necessary V s asked Rose. " I do not seek to 
know where these dreadful people live, but 
where will you be w T alking or passing at any 
settled period from this time V s 

a Will you promise me that you will have 
my secret strictly kept, and come alone, or with 
the only other person that knows it, and that 
I shall not be watched or followed V 9 asked the 
girl. 

" I promise you solemnly," answered 
Rose. 

Ci Every Sunday night, from eleven until the 
clock strikes twelve," said the girl without he- 
sitation, a I will walk on London Bridge if I am 
alive/ 5 

"Stay another moment," interposed Rose, 
as the girl moved hurriedly towards the door. 
" Think once again on your own condition, and 
the opportunity you have of escaping from it. 
You have a claim on me : not only as the vo- 



68 OLIVER TWIST. 

luntary bearer of this intelligence, but as a wo- 
man lost almost beyond redemption, Will you 
return to this gang of robbers and to this man, 
when a word can save you ? What fascination 
is it that can take you back, and make you 
cling to wickedness and misery ? Oh ! is there 
no chord in your heart that I can touch — is 
there nothing left to which I can appeal against 
this terrible infatuation ?" 

" When ladies as young, and good, and beau- 
tiful as you are," replied the girl steadily, iC give 
away your hearts, love will carry you all lengths 
— even such as you who have home, friends, 
other admirers, every thing to fill them. When 
such as me, who have no certain roof but the 
coffin-lid, and no friend in sickness or death 
but the hospital nurse, set our rotten hearts on 
any man, and let him fill the place that parents, 
home, and friends filled once, or that has been 
a blank through all our wretched lives, who can 
hope to cure us ? Pity us, lady — pity us for 
having only one feeling of the woman left, and 
for having that turned by a heavy judgment 



OLIVER TWIST. 69 

from a comfort and a pride into a new means of 
violence and suffering." 

a You will," said Rose, after a pause, " take 
some money from me, which may enable you to 
live without dishonesty — at all events until we 
meet again ?" 

" Not a penny," replied the girl, waving her 
hand. 

"Do not close your heart against all my 
efforts to help you," said Rose, stepping 
gently forward. "I wish to serve you in- 
deed." 

" You would serve me best, lady," replied the 
girl, wringing her hands, a if you could take my 
life at once ; for I have felt more grief to think 
of what I am to-night than I ever did before, 
and it would be something not to die in the 
same hell in which I have lived. God bless 
you, sweet lady, and send as much happiness 
on your head as I have brought shame on 
mine !" 

Thus speaking, and sobbing aloud, the un- 
happy creature turned away ; while Rose May- 
lie, overpowered by this extraordinary interview, 



70 OLIVER TWIST. 

which^bore more the semblance of a rapid dream 
than an actual occurrence, sank into a chair, 
and endeavoured to collect her wandering 
thoughts, 



OLIVER TWIST. 7l 



CHAPTER XL. 

CONTAINING FRESH DISCOVERIES, AND SHOWING THAT SUR- 
PRISES, LIKE MISFORTUNES, SELDOM COME ALONE. 

Her situation was indeed one of no common 
trial and difficulty, for while she felt the most 
eager and burning desire to penetrate the mys- 
tery in which Oliver's history was enveloped, 
she could not but hold sacred the confidence 
which the miserable woman with whom she had 
just conversed had reposed in her, as a young 
and guileless girl. Her words and manner had 
touched Rose Maylie's heart, and mingled with 
her love for her young charge, and scarcely less 
intense in its truth and fervour, was her fond 
wish to win the outcast back to repentance and 
hope. 

They only proposed remaining in London 
three days, prior to departing for some weeks to 



72 OLIVER TWIST. 

a distant part of the coast. It was now mid- 
night of the first day. What course of action 
could she determine upon which could be 
adopted in eight-and-forty hours ? or how could 
she postpone the journey without exciting sus- 
picion ? 

Mr. Losberne was with them, and would be 
for the next two days ; but Rose was too well 
acquainted with the excellent gentleman's impe- 
tuosity, and foresaw too clearly the wrath with 
which, in the first explosion of his indignation, 
he would regard the instrument of Oliver's re- 
capture, to trust him with the secret, when her 
representations in the girl's behalf could be 
seconded by no experienced person. These 
were all reasons for the greatest caution and 
most circumspect behaviour in communicating 
it to Mrs. Maylie, whose first impulse would 
infallibly be to hold a conference with the 
worthy doctor on the subject. As to resorting 
to any legal adviser, even if she had known how 
to do so, it was scarcely to be thought of, for 
the same reasons. Once the thought occurred 
to her of seeking assistance from Harry ; but 



OLIVER TWIST. 73 

this awakened the recollection of their last part- 
ing, and it seemed unworthy of her to call him 
back, when — the tears rose to her eyes as she 
pursued this train of reflection — he might have 
by this time learnt to forget her, and to be hap- 
pier away. 

Disturbed by these different reflections — 
inclining now to one course and then to an- 
other, and again recoiling from all as each suc- 
cessive consideration presented itself to her 
mind, Rose passed a sleepless and anxious night, 
and, after more communing with herself next 
day, arrived at the desperate conclusion of con- 
sulting Harry May lie. 

u If it be painful to him," she thought, (C to 
come back here, how painful will it be to me ! 
But perhaps he will not come ; he mav write, 
or he may come himself, and studiously abstain 
from meeting me — he did when he went away. 
I hardly thought he would; but it was better 
for us both — a great deal better." And hers 
Rose dropped the pen and turned awaj, as 
though the very paper which was to be her 
messenger should riot see her weep. 

VOL. ITT. E 



74 OLIVER TWIST. 

She had taken up the same pen and laid it 
down again fifty times, and had considered and 
re-considered the very first line of her letter 
without writing the first word, when Oliver, 
who had been walking in the streets with Mr. 
Giles for a body-guard, entered the room in 
such breathless haste and violent agitation, as 
seemed to betoken some new cause of alarm. 

a What makes you look so flurried ?" asked 
Rose, advancing to meet him. (i Speak to me, 
Oliver." 

" I hardly know how ; I feel as if I should 
be choked," replied the boy. " Oh dear ! to 
think that I should see him at last, and you 
should be able to know that I have told you all 
the truth !" 

* I never thought you had told us any thing 
but the truth, dear," said Rose, soothing him. 
" But what is this ? — of whom do you speak ?" 

a I have seen the gentleman," replied Oliver, 
scarcely able to articulate, " the gentleman who 
was so good to me — Mr. Brownlow, that we 
have so often talked about." 

« Where ?" asked Rose. 



OLIVER TWIST. 75 

"Getting out of a coach/ 5 replied Oliver, 
shedding tears of delight, "and going into a 
house. I didn't speak to him — I couldn't 
speak to him, for he didn't see me, and I 
trembled so, that I was not able to go up to 
him. But Giles asked for me whether he lived 
there, and they said he did. Look here," said 
Oliver, opening a scrap of paper, " here it is ; 
here's where he lives — I'm going there directly. 
Oh, dear me, dear me ! what shall I do when I 
come to see him and hear him speak again !" 

With her attention not a little distracted by 
these and a great many other incoherent excla- 
mations of joy, Rose read the address, which 
was Craven-street, in the Strand, and very soon 
determined upon turning the discovery to ac- 
count. 

" Quick !" she said, " tell them to fetch a 
hackney-coach, and be ready to go with me. I 
will take you there directly, without a minute's 
loss of time. I will only tell my aunt that we 
are going out for an hour, and be ready as soon 
as you are." 

e2 



76 OLIVER TWIST. 

Oliver needed no prompting to despatch, and 
in little more than five minutes they were on 
their way to Craven-street. When they arrived 
there, Rose left Oliver in the coach under pre- 
tence of preparing the old gentleman to receive 
him, and sending up her card by the servant, 
requested to see Mr. Brownlow on very pressing 
business. The servant soon returned to beg 
that she would walk up stairs, and, following 
him into an upper room, Miss Maylie was pre- 
sented to an elderly gentleman of benevolent 
appearance, in a bottle-green coat ; at no great 
distance from whom was seated another old 
gentleman, in nankeen breeches and gaiters, 
who did not look particularly benevolent, and 
who was sitting with his hands clasped on the 
top of a thick stick, and his chin propped 
thereupon. 

" Dear me/ 5 said the gentleman, in the bottle- 
green coat, hastily rising with great politeness, 
" I beg your pardon, young lady — I imagined it 
was some importunate person who — I beg you 
will excuse me. Be seated, pray." 



OLIVER TWIST. 77 

cc Mr. Brownlow, I believe, sir ?" said Rose, 
glancing from the other gentleman to the one 
who had spoken. 

ce That is my name," said the old gentleman. 
ec This is my friend, Mr. Grim wig. Grim wig, 
will you leave us for a few minutes ?" 

" I believe," interposed Miss Maylie, " that 
at this period of our interview I need not give 
that gentleman the trouble of going away. 
If I am correctly informed, he is cognizant of 
the business on which I wish to speak to 
you/' 

Mr. Brownlow inclined his head, and Mr. 
Grimwig, who had made one very stiff bow, and 
risen from his chair, made another very stiff 
bow, and dropped into it again. 

" I shall surprise you very much, I have no 
doubt," said Rose, naturally embarrassed ; " but 
you once showed great benevolence and good- 
ness to a very dear young friend of mine, and I 
am sure you will take an interest in hearing of 
him again." 

" Indeed !" said Mr. Brownlow. ee May I 
ask his name ?" 



78 OLIVER TWIST. 

"Oliver Twist you knew him as/* replied 
Rose. 

The words no sooner escaped her lips than 
Mr. Grimwig, who had been affecting to dip 
into a large book that lay on the table, upset it 
with a great crash, and falling back in his chair, 
discharged from his features every expression 
but one of the most unmitigated wonder, and 
indulged in a prolonged and vacant stare ; then, 
as if ashamed of having betrayed so much emo- 
tion, he jerked himself, as it were, by a convul- 
sion into his former attitude, and looking out 
straight before him emitted along, deep whistle, 
which seemed at last not to be discharged on 
empty air, but to die away in the inmost re- 
cesses of his stomach. 

Mr. Brownlow was no less surprised, although 
his astonishment was not expressed in the same 
eccentric manner. He drew his chair nearer to 
Miss Maylie's, and said, 

" Do me the favour, my dear young lady, to 
leave entirely out of the question that goodness 
and benevolence of which you speak, and of 
which nobody else knows any thing, and if you 



OLIVER TWIST. 79 

have it in your power to produce any evidence 
which will alter the unfavourable opinion I was 
once induced to entertain of that poor child, 
in Heaven's name put me in possession of it." 

"A bad one — I'll eat my head if he is not a 
bad one/' growled Mr. Grimwig, speaking by 
some ventriloquial power, without moving a 
muscle of his face. 

" He is a child of a noble nature and a warm 
heart/' said Rose, colouring ; " and that Power 
which has thought fit to try him beyond his 
years has planted in his breast affections and 
feelings which would do honour to many who 
have numbered his days six times over." 

"I'm only sixty-one," said Mr. Grimwig, 
with the same rigid face, " and, as the devil's 
in it if this Oliver is not twelve at least, I don't 
see the application of that remark." 

* Do not heed my friend, Miss Maylie," said 
Mr. Brownlow; "he does not mean what he 
says." 

" Yes, he does, growled Mr. Grimwig. 

"No, he dees not," said Mr. Brownlow, ob- 
viously rising in wrath as he spoke. 



80 OLIVER TWIST. 

" He'll eat his head, if he doesn't," growled 
Mr. Grimwig. 

" He would deserve to have it knocked off, if 
he does/' said Mr. Brownlow. 

" And he'd uncommonly like to see any man 
offer to do it/' responded Mr. Grimwig, knock- 
ing his stick upon the floor. 

Having gone thus far, the two old gentlemen 
severally took snuff, and afterwards shook hands, 
according to their invariable custom. 

"Now, Miss Maylie," said Mr. Brownlow, 
"to return to the subject in which your hu- 
manity is so much interested. Will you let me 
know what intelligence you have of this poor 
child : allowing me to premise that I exhausted 
every means in my power of discovering him, 
and that since I have been absent from this 
country, my first impression that he had im- 
posed upon me, and been persuaded by his 
former associates to rob me, has been consider- 
ably shaken." 

Rose, who had had time to collect her 
thoughts, at once related in a few natural words 
all that had befallen Oliver since he left Mr. 



OLIVER TWIST. 81 

Brownlow^s house, reserving Nancy's informa- 
tion for that gentleman's private e^ar, and con- 
cluding with the assurance that his only sorrow 
for some months past had been the not being 
able to meet with his former benefactor and 
friend. 

" Thank God !" said the old gentleman ; 
" this is great happiness to me, great happi- 
ness. But you have not told me where he is 
now, Miss Maylie. You must pardon my find- 
ing fault with you, — but why not have brought 
him ?» 

a He is waiting in a coach at the door/' re- 
plied Rose. 

" At this door \" cried the old gentleman. 
With which he hurried out of the room, down 
the stairs, up the coach-steps, and into the 
coach, without another word. 

When the room-door closed behind him, Mr. 
Grimwig lifted up his head, and converting one 
of the hind legs of his chair into a pivot de- 
scribed three distinct circles with the assistance 
of his stick and the table : sitting in it all the 
e 3 



82 OLIVER TWIST. 

time. After performing this evolution, lie rose 
and limped as fast as he could up and down 
the room at least a dozen times, and then 
stopping suddenly before Rose, kissed her 
without the slightest preface. 

" Hush I" he said, as the young lady rose in 
some alarm at this unusual proceeding, i( don't 
be afraid ; I'm old enough to be your grand- 
father. You're a sweet girl — I like you. Here 
they are." 

In fact, as he threw himself at one dexterous 
dive into his former seat, Mr. Brownlow re- 
turned accompanied by Oliver, whom Mr. 
Grimwig received very graciously ; and if the 
gratification of that moment had been the only 
reward for all her anxiety and care in Oliver's 
behalf, Rose Maylie would have been well re- 
paid. 

" There is somebody else who should not 
be forgotten, by the by," said Mr. Brownlow, 
ringing the bell. " Send Mrs. Bedwin here, if 
you please." 

The old housekeeper answered the summons 



OLIVER TWIST. 83 

with all despatch, and dropping a curtsey at the 
door, waited for orders. 

Ci Why, you get blinder every day, Bedwin," 
said Mr. Brownlow, rather testily. 

u Well, that I do, sir," replied the old lady. 
u People's eyes, at my time of life, don't im- 
prove with age, sir." 

u I could have told you that," rejoined Mr. 
Brownlow ; " but put on your glasses, and see 
if you can't find out what you were wanted for, 
will you ?" 

The old lady began to rummage in her pocket 
for her spectacles ; but Oliver's patience was 
not proof against this new trial, and yielding to 
his first impulse, he sprung into her arms. 

ff God be good to me 1" cried the old lady, 
embracing him ; " it is my innocent boy \" 

a My dear old nurse !" cried Oliver. 

" He would come back — I knew he would," 
said the old lady, holding him in her arms. 
" How well he looks, and how like a gentle- 
man's son he is dressed again ! Where have 
you been this long, long while ? Ah ! the same 
sweet face, but not so pale ; the same soft eye, 



84 OLIVER TWIST. 

but not so sad. I have never forgotten them or 
his quiet smile, but seen them every day side by 
side with those of my own dear children, dead and 
gone since I was a young lightsome creature. 3 * 
Running on thus, and now holding Oliver from 
her to mark how he had grown, now clasping 
him to her and passing her fingers fondly 
through his hair, the poor soul laughed and 
wept upon his neck by turns. 

Leaving her and Oliver to compare notes at 
leisure, Mr. Brownlow led the way into another 
room, and there heard from Rose a full narra- 
tion of her interview with Nancy, which occa- 
sioned him no little surprise and perplexity. 
Rose also explained her reasons for not making 
a confident of her friend Mr. Losberne in the 
first instance; the old gentleman considered 
that she had acted prudently, and readily under- 
took to hold solemn conference with the worthy 
doctor himself. To afford him an early oppor- 
tunity for the execution of this design, it was 
arranged that he should call at the hotel at 
eight o'clock that evening, and that in the 
mean time Mrs. Maylie should be cautiously 



OLIVER TWIST. 85 

informed of all that had occurred. These pre- 
liminaries adjusted, Rose and Oliver returned 
home. 

Rose had by no means overrated the measure 
of the good doctor's wrath, for Nancy's history 
was no sooner unfolded to him than he poured 
forth a shower of mingled threats and execra- 
tions ; threatened to make her the first victim 
of the combined ingenuity of Messrs, Blathers 
and Duff, and actually put on his hat prepara- 
tory to sallying forth immediately to obtain the 
assistance of those worthies. And doubtless 
he would, in this first outbreak, have carried 
the intention into effect without a moment's 
consideration of the consequences if he had not 
been restrained, in part, by corresponding vio- 
lence on the side of Mr. Brownlow, who was 
himself of an irascible temperament, and partly 
by such arguments and representations as 
seemed best calculated to dissuade him from 
his hotbrained purpose. 

Ci Then what the devil is to be done V 3 said 
the impetuous doctor, when they had rejoined 
the two ladies. " Are we to pass a vote of 



86 OLIVER TWIST. 

thanks to all these vagabonds, male and female, 
and beg them to accept a hundred pounds or 
so apiece as a trifling mark of our esteem, and 
some slight acknowledgment of their kindness 
to Oliver ?" 

" Not exactly that/* rejoined Mr. Brownlow 
laughing ; " but we must proceed gently and 
with great care." 

u Gentleness and care !" exclaimed the doc- 
tor. (i Pd send them one and all to * 

" Never mind where/' interposed Mr. 
Brownlow. K But reflect whether sending 
them any where is likely to attain the object 
we have in view/' 

a What object ?" asked the doctor, 

a Simply the discovery of Oliver's parentage, 
and regaining for him the inheritance of which, 
if this story be true, he has been fraudulently 
deprived." 

(( Ah L" said Mr. Losberne, cooling himself 
with his pocket-handkerchief; " I almost forgot 
that." 

" You see," pursued Mr. Brownlow, " pla- 
cing this poor girl entirely out of the question, 



OLIVER TWIST. 87 

and supposing it were possible to bring these 
scoundrels to justice without compromising her 
safety, what good should we bring about ?" 

a Hanging a few of them at least, in all pro- 
bability," suggested the doctor, " and trans- 
porting the rest." 

ec Very good/* replied Mr. Brownlow smil- 
ing, u but no doubt they will bring that about 
themselves in the fulness of time, and if we 
step in to forestal them, it seems to me that 
we shall be performing a very Quixotic act in 
direct opposition to our own interest, or at 
least to Oliver's, which is the same thing. 5 ' 

" How?" inquired the doctor. 

" Thus. It is quite clear that we shall have 
the most extreme difficulty in getting to the 
bottom of this mystery, unless we can bring 
this man, Monks, upon his knees. That can 
only be done by stratagem, and by catching 
him when he is not surrounded by these peo- 
ple. For, suppose he were apprehended, we 
have no proof against him. He is not even 
(so far as we know, or as the facts appear to us) 
concerned with the gang in any of their rob- 



88 OLIVER TWIST. 

beries. If he were not discharged, it is very 
unlikely that he could receive any further 
punishment than being committed to prison as 
a rogue and vagabond, and of course ever after- 
wards his mouth is so obstinately closed that he 
might as well, for our purposes, be deaf, dumb, 
blind, and an idiot." 

" Then," said the doctor impetuously, " I 
put it to you again, whether you think it rea- 
sonable that this promise to the girl should be 
considered binding ; a promise made with the 
best and kindest intentions, but really — " 

" Do not discuss the point, my dear young 
lady, pray," said Mr. Brownlow interrupting 
Rose as she was about to speak. " The pro- 
mise shall be kept. I don't think it will in the 
slightest degree interfere with our proceedings. 
But before we can resolve upon any precise 
course of action, it will be necessary to see the 
girl, to ascertain from her whether she will 
point out this Monks on the understanding that 
she is to be dealt with by us, and not by the 
law ; or if she will not or cannot do that, to 
procure from her such an account of his haunts 



OLIVER TWIST. ©9 

and description of his person as will enable us 
to identify him. She cannot be seen until next 
Sunday night ; this is Tuesday. I would sug- 
gest that, in the mean time, we remain per- 
fectly quiet, and keep these matters secret even 
from Oliver himself." 

Although Mr. Losberne received with many 
wry faces a proposal involving a delay of five 
whole days, he was fain to admit that no better 
course occurred to him just then; and as both 
Rose and Mrs. Maylie sided very strongly with 
Mr. Brownlow, that gentleman's proposition 
was carried unanimously. 

" I should like/' he said, " to call in the aid 
of my friend Grimwig. He is a strange crea- 
ture, but a shrewd one, and might prove of 
material assistance to us ; I should say that he 
was bred a lawyer, and quitted the bar in dis- 
gust because he had only one brief and a motion 
of course in ten years, though whether that is 
a recommendation or not, you must determine 
for yourselves." 

" I have no objection to your calling in your 
friend if I may call in mine," said the doctor. 



90 OLIVER TWIST. 

" We must put it to the vote/' replied Mr. 
Brownlow, a who may he be ?" 

u That lady's son, and this young lady's — 
very old friend/' said the doctor, motioning to- 
wards Mrs. Maylie, and concluding with an ex- 
pressive glance at her niece. 

Rose blushed deeply, but she did not make 
any audible objection to this motion (possibly 
she felt in a hopeless minority), and Harry 
Maylie and Mr. Grimwig were accordingly 
added to the committee. 

66 We stay in town of course/' said Mrs. 
Maylie, " while there remains the slightest pro- 
spect of prosecuting this inquiry with a chance 
of success. I will spare neither trouble nor 
expense in behalf of the object in whom we 
are all so deeply interested, and I am content 
to remain here, if it be for twelve months, 
so long as you assure me that any hope re- 
mains." 

iC Good," rejoined Mr. Brownlow, (i and as 
I see on the faces about me a disposition to 
inquire how it happened that I was not in the 
way to corroborate Oliver's tale, and had so 



OLIVER TWIST. 91 

suddenly left the kingdom, let me stipulate that 
I shall be asked no questions until such time as 
I may deem it expedient to forestal them by 
telling my own story. Believe me that I make 
this request with good reason, for I might 
otherwise excite hopes destined never to be 
realized, and only increase difficulties and dis- 
appointments already quite numerous enough. 
Come ; supper has been announced, and young 
Oliver, who is all alone in the next room, will 
have begun to think, by this time, that we have 
wearied of his company, and entered into some 
dark conspiracy to thrust him forth upon the 
world." 

With these words the old gentleman gave his 
hand to Mrs. Maylie, and escorted her into the 
supper-room. Mr. Losberne followed, leading 
Rose, and the council was for the present effec- 
tually broken up. 



92 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XLL 

AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE OF OLIVER'S, EXHIBITING DECIDED 
MARKS OF GENIUS, BECOMES A PUBLIC CHARACTER IN 
THE METROPOLIS. 

Upon the very same night when Nancy, 
having lulled Mr. Sikes to sleep, hurried on her 
self-imposed mission to Rose Maylie, there 
advanced towards London by the Great North 
Road two persons, upon whom it is expe- 
dient that this history should bestow some 
attention. 

They were a man and woman, or perhaps 
they would be better described as a male and 
female ; for the former was one of those long- 
limbed, knock-kneed, shambling, bony figures, 
to whom it is difficult to assign any precise 
age, — looking as they do, when they are yet 



OLIVER TWIST. 93 

boys, like undergrown men, and when they 
are almost men, like overgrown boys. The 
woman was young, but of a robust and hardy 
make, as she need have been to bear the weight 
of the heavy bundle which was strapped to her 
back. Her companion was not encumbered 
with much luggage, as there merely dangled 
from a stick which he carried over his shoulder 
a small parcel wrapped in a common handker- 
chief, and apparently light enough. This cir- 
cumstance, added to the length of his legs, 
which were of unusual extent, enabled him with 
much ease to keep some half-dozen paces in 
advance of his companion, to whom he occa- 
sionally turned with an impatient jerk of the 
head as if reproaching her tardiness, and urging 
her to greater exertion. 

Thus they toiled along the dusty road, taking 
little heed of any object within sight, save when 
they stepped aside to allow a wider passage for 
the mail-coaches which were whirling out of 
town, until they passed through Highgate arch- 
way, when the foremost traveller stopped and 
called impatiently to his companion, 



94 OLIVER TWIST. 

a Come on, can't yer ? What a lazybones yer 
are, Charlotte." 

a I^s a heavy load, I can tell you," said the 
female, coming up almost breathless with fa- 
tigue. 

" Heavy ! What are yer talking about ? — 
what are yer made for?" rejoined the male tra- 
veller, changing his own little bundle as he 
spoke, to the other shoulder. " Oh, there yer 
are, resting again ! Well, if yer ain't enough 
to tire any body's patience out, I don't know 
what is." 

" Is it much farther?" asked the woman, 
resting herself on a bank, and looking up with 
the perspiratian streaming from her face. 

" Much farther ! Yer as good as there," said 
the long-legged tramper pointing out before 
him. "Look there — those are the lights of 
London." 

" They're a good two mile off at least," said 
the woman despondingly. 

" Never mind whether they're two mile off or 
twenty," said Noah Claypole, for he it was; 



OLIVER TWIST. 95 

but get up and come on, or Pll kick yer ; and 
so I give yer notice." 

As Noah's red nose grew redder with anger, 
and as he crossed the road while speaking, as if 
fully prepared to put his threat into execution, 
the woman rose without any further remark 
and trudged onwards by his side. 

" Where do you mean to stop for the night, 
Noah V 9 she asked, after they had walked a few 
hundred yards. 

" How should I know ?" replied Noah, 
whose temper had been considerably impaired 
by walking. 

u Near, I hope," said Charlotte. 

" No, not near," replied Mr. Claypole ; " there 
— not near ; so don't think it." 

"Why not?" 

" When I tell yer that I don't mean to do a 
thing, thatfs enough, without any why, or be- 
cause either," replied Mr. Claypole with dig- 
nity. 

"Well, you needn't be so cross," said his 
companion. 



96 OLIVER TWIST. 

a A pretty thing it would be, wouldn't it, to 
go and stop at the very first public-house out- 
side the town, so that Sowerberry, if he come 
up after us, might poke in his old nose, and 
have us taken back in a cart with handcuffs 
on," said Mr. Claypole in a jeering tone. cc No, 
I shall go and lose myself among the narrowest 
streets I can find, and not stop till we come to 
the very out-of-the-way est house I can set eyes 
on. 'Cod, yer may thank yer stars Fve got 
a head ; for if we hadn't gone at first the wrong 
road on purpose, and come back across country, 
yer'd have been locked up hard and fast a week 
ago, my lady, and serve yer right for being a 
fool." 

" I know I ain't as cunning as you are/' re- 
plied Charlotte ; " but don't put all the blame 
on me, and say i" should have been locked 
up. You would have been if I had been, any 
way." 

" Yer took the money from the till, yer 
know yer did," said Mr. Claypole. 

u I took it for you, Noah, dear," rejoined 
Charlotte. 



OLIVER TWIST. 97 

Cf Did I keep it ?" asked Mr. Claypole. 
" No ; you trusted in me, and let me carry it 
like a dear, and so you are/" said the lady, 
chucking him under the chin, and drawing her 
arm through his. 

This was indeed the case ; but as it was not 
Mr. Claypole's habit to repose a blind and 
foolish confidence in any body, it should be 
observed, in justice to that gentleman, that he 
had trusted Charlotte to this extent, in order 
that, if they were pursued, the money might be 
found on her, which would leave him an oppor- 
tunity of asserting his utter innocence of any 
theft, and greatly facilitate his chances of escape. 
Of course he entered at this juncture into no 
explanation of his motives, and they walked on 
very lovingly together. 

In pursuance of this cautious plan, Mr. Clay- 
pole went on without halting until he arrived at 
the Angel at Islington, where he wisely judged, 
from the crowd of passengers and number of 
vehicles, that London began in earnest. Just 
pausing to observe which appeared the most 
crowded streets, and consequently the most to 

VOL. III. F 



98 OLIVER TWIST. 

be avoided, he crossed into Saint John's Road, 
and was soon deep in the obscurity of the in- 
tricate and dirty ways which;, lying between 
Gray's Inn Lane and Smithfield, render that 
part of the town one of the lowest and 
worst that improvement has left in the midst 
of London. 

Through these streets Noah Claypole walked, 
dragging Charlotte after him, now stepping into 
the kennel to embrace at a glance the whole 
external character of some small public-house, 
and now jogging on again as some fancied ap- 
pearance induced him to believe it too public 
for his purpose. At length he stopped in front 
of one more humble in appearance and more 
dirty than any he had yet seen ; and, having 
crossed over and surveyed it from the opposite 
pavement, graciously announced his intention 
of putting up there for the night. 

" So give us the bundle," said Noah, un- 
strapping it from the woman's shoulders, and 
slinging it over his own ; tc and don't yer speak 
except when yer spoken to. What's the name 
of the house — t-h-r — three what ?" 



OLIVER TWIST. 99 

* Cripples," said Charlotte. 

" Three Cripples," repeated Noah, " and a 
very good sign too. Now, then, keep close at 
my heels, and ^come along." With these in- 
junctions, he pushed the rattling door with his 
shoulder, and entered the house followed by his 
companion. 

There was nobody in the bar but a young- 
Jew, who, with his two elbows on the counter, 
was reading a dirty newspaper. He stared very 
hard at Noah, and Noah stared very hard at 
him. 

If Noah had been attired in his charity-boy^s 
dress, there might have been some reason for 
the Jew*s opening his eyes so wide ; but as he 
had discarded the coat and badge, and wore 
a short smock-frock over his leathers, there 
seemed no particular reason for his appear- 
ance exciting so much attention in a public- 
house. 

ec Is this the Three Cripples ?" asked Noah. 

e( That is the dabe of this house," replied 
the Jew. 

" A gentleman we met on the road coming 
p 2 



100 OLIVER TWIST. 

up from the country recommended us here/* 
said Noah, nudging Charlotte, perhaps to call 
her attention to this most ingenious device for 
attracting respect, and perhaps to warn her to 
betray no surprise. " We want to sleep here 
to-night." 

" I'b dot certaid you cad," said Barney, 
who was the attendant sprite ; " but Fll id- 
quire." 

" Show us the tap, and give us a bit of cold 
meat and a drop of beer while yer inquiring, 
will yer ?" said Noah. 

Barney complied by ushering them into a 
small back - room, and setting the required 
viands before them ; having done which, he 
informed the travellers that they could be 
lodged that night, and left the amiable couple 
to their refreshment. 

Now, this back-room was immediately be- 
hind the bar, and some steps lower, so that any 
person connected with the house, undrawing a 
small curtain which concealed a single pane of 
glass fixed in the wall of the last-named apart- 
ment, about five feet from its flooring, could 



OLIVER TWIST. 101 

not only look down upon any guests in the back- 
room without any great hazard of being ob- 
served (the glass being in a dark angle of the 
wall, between which and a large upright beam 
the observer had to thrust himself), but could, 
by applying his ear to the partition, ascertain 
with tolerable distinctness their subject of con- 
versation. The landlord of the house had not 
withdrawn his eye from this place of espial for 
five minutes, and Barney had only just re- 
turned from making the communication above 
related, when Fagin, in the course of his even- 
ing's business came into the bar to inquire after 
some of his young pupils. 

"Hush!" said Barney: <( stradegers id the 
next roob." 

" Strangers I" repeated the old man in a 
whisper. 

(C Ah ! ad rub uds too," added Barney. 
" Frob the cuttry, but subthig in your way, 
or I'b bistaked." 

Fagin appeared to receive this communica- 
tion with great interest, and, mounting on a 
stool, cautiously applied his eye to the pane of 



102 OLIVER TWIST. 

glass, from which secret post he could see Mr. 
Claypole taking cold beef from the dish and 
porter from the pot, and administering homoe- 
opathic doses of both to Charlotte, who sat 
patiently by, eating and drinking at his plea- 
sure. 

"Aha!" whispered the Jew, looking round 
to Barney, "I like the fellow's looks. He'd 
be of use to us ; he knows how to train the 
girl already. Don't make as much noise as a 
mouse, my dear, and let me hear 'em talk — let 
me hear 5 em." 

The Jew again applied his eye to the 
glass, and turning his ear to the partition, 
listened attentively, with a subtle and eager 
look upon his face that might have appertained 
to some old goblin. 

"So I mean to be a gentleman," said Mr. 
Claypole, kicking out his legs, and continuing 
a conversation, the commencement of which 
Fagin had arrived too late to hear. u No 
more jolly old coffins, Charlotte, but a gen- 
tleman's life for me ; and, if yer like, yer shall 
be a lady." 



OLIVER TWIST. 103 

Cf I should like that well enough, dear, " re- 
plied Charlotte ; " but tills ain't to be emptied 
every day, and people to get clear off after 
it. 5 ' 

" Tills be blowed!" said Mr. Claypole; 
" there's more things besides tills to be emp- 
tied." 

£i What do you mean ?" asked his com- 
panion. 

" Pockets, women's ridicules, houses, mail- 
coaches, banks/' said Mr. Claypole, rising with 
the porter. 

" But you can't do all that, dear," said Char- 
lotte. 

" I shall look out to get into company with 
them as can," replied Noah. ei They'll be able 
to make us useful some way or another. Why, 
you yourself are worth fifty women ; I never 
see such a precious sly and deceitful creetur as 
yer can be when I let yer." 

" Lor, how nice it is to hear you say so !" 
exclaimed Charlotte, imprinting a kiss upon his 
ugly face. 

£i There, that'll do : don't yer be too affec- 



104 OLIVER TWIST. 

tionate, in case I'm cross with yer," said Noah, 
disengaging himself with great gravity. " I 
should like to be the captain of some band, and 
have the whopping of 'era, and follering 'em 
about, unbeknown to themselves. That would 
suit me, if there was good profit; and if we 
could only get in with some gentlemen of this 
sort, I say it would be cheap at that twenty- 
pound note you've got, — especially as we 
don't very well know how to get rid of it our- 
selves." 

After expressing this opinion, Mr. Claypole 
looked into the porter-pot with an aspect of 
deep wisdom, and having well shaken its con- 
tents, nodded condescendingly to Charlotte, 
and took a draught, wherewith he appeared 
greatly refreshed. He was meditating another, 
when the sudden opening of the door and ap- 
pearance of a stranger interrupted him. 

The stranger was Mr. Fagin, and very ami- 
able he looked, and a very low bow he made as 
he advanced, and, setting himself down at the 
nearest table, ordered something to drink of the 
grinning Barney. 



OLIVER TWIST. 106 

u A pleasant night, sir, but cool for the time 
of year/ 5 said Fagin, rubbing his hands. " From 
the country, I see, sir ?" 

" How do yer see that V' asked Noah Clay- 
pole. 

" We have not so much dust as that in Lon- 
don," replied the Jew, pointing from Noah's 
shoes to those of his companion, and from them 
to the two bundles. 

" Yer a sharp feller," said Noah. " Ha ! ha ! 
only hear that, Charlotte I" 

« Why, one need be sharp in this town, my 
dear," replied the Jew, sinking his voice to a 
confidential whisper, " and thatfs the truth." 

The Jew followed up this remark by striking 
the side of his nose with his right forefinger, — 
a gesture which Noah attempted to imitate, 
though not with complete success, in conse- 
quence of his own nose not being large enough 
for the purpose. However, Mr. Fagin seemed 
to interpret the endeavour as expressing a per- 
fect coincidence with his opinion, and put about 
the liquor which Barney reappeared with, in a 
very friendly manner. 



106 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Good stuff that," observed Mr. Claypole, 
smacking his lips. 

" Dear/' said Fagin. " A man need be 
always emptying a till, or a pocket, or a 
woman's reticule, or a house, or a mail-coach, 
or a bank, if he drinks it regularly ." 

Mr. Claypole no sooner heard this extract 
from his own remarks than he fell back in his 
chair, and looked from the Jew to Charlotte 
with a countenance of ashy paleness and exces- 
sive terror. 

" Don't mind me, my dear," said Fagin, 
drawing his chair closer. * Ha ! ha ! it was 
lucky it was only me that heard you by chance. 
It was very lucky it was only me." 

(i I didn't take it," stammered Noah, no 
longer stretching out his legs like an inde- 
pendent gentleman, but coiling them up as well 
as he could under his chair ; ee it was all her 
doing : yerVe got it now, Charlotte, yer know 
yer have." 

i( No matter who's got it, or who did it, my 
dear!" replied Fagin, glancing, nevertheless, 
with a hawk's eye at the girl and the two 



OLIVER TWIST. 107 

bundles. " I'm in that way myself, and I like 
you for it." 

" In what way ?" asked Mr. Claypole, a little 
recovering. 

" In that way of business/' rejoined Fagin, 
(i and so are the people of the house. You've 
hit the right nail upon the head, and are as safe 
here as you could be. There is not a safer 
place in all this town than is the Cripples ; that 
is, when I like to make it so, and I've taken a 
fancy to you and the young woman ; so Tve 
said the word, and you may make your minds 
easy/ 5 

Noah Claypole's mind might have been at 
ease after this assurance, but his body certainly 
was not, for he shuffled and writhed about into 
various uncouth positions, eyeing his new friend 
meanwhile with mingled fear and suspicion. 

" I'll tell you more," said the Jew, after he 
had reassured the girl, by dint of friendly nods 
and muttered encouragements. " I have got a 
friend that I think can gratify your darling wish 
and put you in the right way, where you can 
take whatever department of the business you 



108 OLIVER TWIST. 

think will suit you best at first, and be taught 
all the others/ 5 

" Yer speak as if yer were in earnest," re- 
plied Noah. 

" What advantage would it be to me to be 
anything else?" inquired the Jew, shrugging his 
shoulders. " Here. Let me have a word with 
you outside." 

" There's no occasion to trouble ourselves to 
move," said Noah, getting his legs by gradual 
degrees abroad again. " She'll take the lug- 
gage up stairs the while. Charlotte, see to 
them bundles." 

This mandate, which had been delivered with 
great majesty, was obeyed without the slightest 
demur, and Charlotte made the best of her 
way off with the packages while Noah held the 
door open, and watched her out. 

" She's kept tolerably well under, ain't she, 
sir }" he asked as he resumed his seat, in the 
tone of a keeper who has tamed some wild 
animal. 

" Quite perfect," rejoined Fagin, clapping him 
on the shoulder. " You're a genius, my dear." 



OLIVER TWIST. 109 

" Why, I suppose if I wasn't I shouldn't be 
here/' replied Noah. " But, I say, she'll be 
back if yer lose time." 

"Now, what do you think ?" said the Jew. 
" If you was to like my friend, could you do 
better than join him ?" 

" Is he in a good way of business, that's 
where it is ?" responded Noah, winking one of 
his little eyes. 

" The top of the tree," said the Jew, " em- 
ploys a power of hands ; and has the very best 
society in the profession." 

" Regular town-maders ?" asked Mr. Clay- 
pole. 

u Not a countryman among 'em ; and I don't 
think he'd take you even on my recommenda- 
tion if he didn't run rather short of assistants 
just now," replied the Jew. 

"Should I have to hand over ?" said Noah, 
slapping his breeches-pocket. 

" It couldn't possibly be done without," 
replied Fagin, in a most decided manner. 

" Twenty pound, though, — it's a lot of mo- 
ney !" 



110 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Not when it's in a note you can't ged rid 
of/' retorted Fagin. u Number and date taken. 
I suppose ; payment stopped at the Bank ? Ah ! 
It's not worth much to him ; it'll have to go 
abroad, and he couldn't sell it for a great deal 
in the market." 

"When could I see him?" asked Noah 
doubtfully. 

ei To-morrow morning/' replied the Jew. 

" Where ?" 

" Here." 

" Urn ! " said Noah. " What's the 
wages ?" 

" Live like a gentleman, — board and lodging , 
pipes and spirits free, — half of all you earn, and 
half of all the young woman earns," replied 
Mr. Fagin. 

Whether Noah Claypole, whose rapacity was 
none of the least comprehensive, would have 
acceded even to these glowing terms had he 
been a perfectly free agent is very doubtful; 
but as he recollected that, in the event of his 
refusal it was in the power of his new acquaint- 
ance to give him up to justice immediately (and 



OLIVER TWIST. Ill 

more unlikely things had come to pass), he gra- 
dually relented, and said he thought that would 
suit him." 

i( But, yer see/ 5 observed Noah, " as she will 
be able to do a good deal, I should like to take 
something very light." 

" A little fancy work ?" suggested Fagin. 

" Ah ! something of that sort," replied Noah 
" What do you think would suit me now ? 
Something not too trying for the strength, and 
not very dangerous, you know ; that's the sort 
of thing !" 

" I heard you talk of something in the spy 
way upon the others, my dear V 9 said the Jew. 
" My friend wants somebody who would do 
that well very much." 

"Why, I did mention that, and I shouldn't mind 
turning my hand to it sometimes," rejoined Mr. 
Claypole slowly; "but it wouldn't pay by itself, 
you know." 

" That's true !" observed the Jew, ruminating 
or pretending to ruminate. u No, it might 
not." 

" What do you think, then ?" asked Noah, 



112 OLIVER TWIST. 

anxiously regarding him. u Something in the 
sneaking way, where it was pretty sure work, 
and not much more risk than being at home." 

"What do you think of the old ladies?" 
asked the Jew. "There's a good deal of money 
made in snatching their bags and parcels, and 
running round the corner/' 

"Don't they holler out a good deal, and 
scratch sometimes ?" asked Noah, shaking his 
head. " I don't think that would answer 
my purpose. Ain't there any other line 
open?" 

" Stop," said the Jew, laying his hand on 
Noah's knee. " The kinchin lay." 

" What's that?" demanded Mr. Claypole. 

" The kinchins, my dear," said the Jew, " is 
the young children that's sent on errands by 
their mothers, with sixpences and shillings, and 
the lay is just to take their money away — 
they've always got it ready in their hands, — 
and then knock 'em into the kennel, and walk 
off very slow, as if there was nothing else the 
matter but a child fallen down and hurt itself. 
Ha! ha! ha!" 



OLIVER TWIST. 113 

" Ha ! ha !" roared Mr. Claypole, kicking 
up his legs in an ecstasy. " Lord, that's the 
very thing !" 

" To be sure it is," replied Fagin ; " and you 
can have a few good beats chalked out in Cam- 
den-town, and Battle-bridge, and neighbour- 
hoods like that, where they're always going 
errands, and upset as many kinchins as you 
want any hour in the day. Ha ! ha ! ha!" 

With this Fagin poked Mr. Claypole in the 
side, and they joined in a burst of laughter both 
long and loud. 

" Well, that's all right !" said Noah, when he 
had recovered himself, and Charlotte had 
returned. " What time to-morrow shall we 
say : 

" Will ten do ?" asked the Jew, adding, as 
Mr. Claypole nodded assent, "What name 
shall I tell my good friend ?" 

" Mr. Bolter," replied Noah, who had pre- 
pared himself for such an emergency. " Mr. 
Morris Bolter. This is Mrs. Bolter." 

" Mrs. Bolter's humble servant," said Fagin, 



114 OLIVER TWIST. 

bowing with grotesque politeness. u I hope I 
shall know her better very shortly." 

" Do you hear the gentleman, Char-lotte ?" 
thundered Mr. Claypole. 

" Yes, Noah, dear !" replied Mrs. Bolter, 
extending her hand. 

" She calls me Noah, as a sort of fond way of 
talking," said Mr. Morris Bolter, late Claypole, 
turning to the Jew. ec You understand ?" 

" Oh yes, I understand — perfectly," replied 
Fagin, telling the truth for once. " Good 
night ! Good night !" 

With many adieus and good wishes Mr. Fagin 
went his way ; and Noah Claypole, bespeaking 
his good lady's attention, proceeded to enlighten 
her relative to the arrangement he had made, 
with all that haughtiness and air of superiority 
becoming not only a member of the sterner 
sex, but a gentleman who appreciated the dig- 
nity of a special appointment on the kinchin lay 
in London and its vicinity. 



OLIVER TWIST. 115 



CHAPTER XLII. 

WHEREIN IS SHOWN HOW THE ARTFUL DODGER GOT IXTO 
TROUBLE, 

" And so it was you that was your own friend, 
was it?" asked Mr. Clay pole, otherwise Bolter, 
when, by virtue of the compact entered into 
between them, he had removed next day to the 
Jew's house. " 'Cod, I thought as much last 
night!" 

" Every man's his own friend, my dear," re- 
plied Fagin, with his most insinuating grin. 
"He hasn't as good a one as himself any- 
where." 

"Except sometimes," replied Morris Bolter, 
assuming the air of a man of the world. " Some 
people are nobody's enemies but their own, yer 
know." 



116 OLIVER TWIST. 

* Don't believe that," said the Jew. " When 
a man's his own enemy, it's only because he's 
too much his own friend, not because he's care- 
ful for every body but himself. Pooh ! pooh ! 
There ain't such a thing in nature." 

" There oughtn't to be, if there is," replied 
Mr. Bolter. 

"That stands to reason," said the Jew. 
" Some conjurers say that number three is the 
magic number, and some say number seven. 
It's neither, my friend, neither. It's number 
one." 

"Ha! ha!" cried Mr. Bolter. "Number 
one for ever. 

" In a little community like ours, my dear," 
said the Jew, who felt it necessary to qualify 
this position, " we have a general number one ; 
that is, you can't consider yourself as number 
one without considering me too as the same, 
and all the other young people." 

" Oh, the devil !" exclaimed Mr. Bolter. 

"You see," pursued the Jew, affecting to 
disregard this interruption, "we are so mixed 
up together and identified in our interests that 



OLIVER TWIST. J 17 

it must be so. For instance, it's your object to 
take care of number one — meaning yourself." 

" Certainly/' replied Mr. Bolter. K Yer about 
right there." 

a Well, you can't take care of yourself, num- 
ber one, without taking care of me, number 
one." 

£( Number two, you mean," said Mr. Bolter, 
who was largely endowed with the quality of 
selfishness. 

" No, I don't !" retorted the Jew. " I'm of 
the same importance to you as you are to your- 
self." 

e: I say," interrupted Mr. Bolter, " yer a very 
nice man, and I'm very fond of yer ; but we ain't 
quite so thick together as all that comes to." 

"Only think," said the Jew, shrugging his 
shoulders, and stretching out his hands, " only 
consider. You've done what's a very pretty 
thing, and what I love you for doing ; but what 
at the same time would put the cravat round 
your throat that's so very easily tied and so 
very difficult to unloosen — in plain English, the 
halter 1" 



118 OLIVER TWIST. 

Mr. Bolter put his hand to his neckerchief as 
if he felt it inconveniently tight, and murmured 
an assent^ qualified in tone but not in sub- 
stance. 

" The gallows/ 5 continued Fagin, " the gal- 
lows, my dear, is an ugly finger-post, which 
points out a very short and sharp turning that 
has stopped many a bold fellow's career on the 
broad highway. To keep in the easy road, and 
keep it at a distance, is object number one with 
you." 

"Of course it is," replied Mr. Bolter. 
"What do yer talk about such things for ?" 

" Only to show you my meaning clearly/' 
said the Jew, raising his eyebrows. "To be 
able to do that, you depend upon me ; to keep 
my little business all snug, I depend upon you. 
The first is your number one, the second my 
number one. The more you value your num- 
ber one, the more careful you must be of mine ; 
so we come at last to what I told you at first — 
that a regard for number one holds us all to- 
gether, and must do so unless we would all go 
to pieces in company." 



OLIVER TWIST. 1 19 

" That's true/' rejoined Mr. Bolter, thought- 
fully. " Oh ! yer a* cunning old codger \" 

Mr. Fagin saw with delight that this tribute 
to his powers was no mere compliment, but 
that he had really impressed his recruit with a 
sense of his wily genius, which it was most im- 
portant that he should entertain in the outset of 
their acquaintance. To strengthen an impres- 
sion so desirable and useful, he followed up the 
blow by acquainting him in some detail with the 
magnitude and extent of his operations ; blend- 
ing truth and fiction together as best served his 
purpose, and bringing both to bear with so 
much art, that Mr. Bolter's respect visibly in- 
creased, and became tempered, at the same 
time, with a degree of wholesome fear, which it 
was highly desirable to awaken. 

" It's this mutual trust we have in each other 
that consoles me under heavy losses," said the 
Jew. fe My best hand was taken from me yes- 
terday morning." 

a Yer don't mean to say he died ?" cried Mr. 
Bolter. 

" No, no," replied Fagin, " not so bad as 
that. Not quite so bad." 



120 OLIVER TWIST. 

i( What; I suppose he was " 

" Wanted," interposed the Jew. "Yes, he 
was wanted." 

" Very particular ?" inquired Mr. Bolter. 

u No," replied the Jew, " not very. He was 
charged with attempting to pick a pocket, and 
they found a silver snuff-box on him, — his own, 
my dear, his own, for he took snuff himself, and 
was very fond of it. They remanded him till 
to-day, for they thought they knew the owner. 
Ah ! he was worth fifty boxes and Fd give the 
price of as many to have him back. You should 
have known the Dodger, my dear ; you should 
have known the Dodger." 

e< Well, but I shall know him, I hope; don't 
yer think so V said Mr. Bolter. 

" Fm doubtful about it," replied the Jew, 
with a sigh. " If they don't get any fresh evi- 
dence it'll only be a summary conviction, and 
we shall have him back again after six weeks or 
so ; but, if they do, it's a case of lagging. They 
know what a clever lad he is; he'll be a lifer: 
they'll make the Artful nothing less than a 
lifer." 



OLIVER TWIST. 121 

** What do yer mean by lagging and a lifer ?" 
demanded Mr. Bolter. " What 's the good 
of talking in that way to me ; why don't yer 
speak so as I can understand yer ?" 

Fagin was about to translate these myste- 
rious expressions into the vulgar tongue, and, 
being interpreted, Mr. Bolter would have been 
informed that they represented that combina- 
tion of words, " transportation for life," when 
the dialogue was cut short by the entry of 
Master Bates with his hands in his breeches' 
pockets, and his face twisted into a look of 
semi-comical woe. 

"It's all up, Fagin," said Charley, when 
he and his new companion had been made 
known to each other. 

" What do you mean ?" asked the Jew with 
trembling lips. 

" They 've found the gentleman as owns the 
box ; two or three more 's a coming to 'dentify 
him, and the Artful's booked for a passage out," 
replied Master Bates. u I must have a full suit 
of mourning, Fagin, and a hatband, to wisit 
him in, afore he sets out upon his travels. To 

VOL. III. g 



122 OLIVER TWIST. 

think of Jack Dawkins — lummy Jack — the 
Dodger — the Artful Dodger — going abroad for 
a common twopenny-halfpenny sneeze-box ! I 
never thought he'd ha 1 done it under a gold 
watch, chain, and seals, at the lowest. Oh, 
why didn't he rob some rich old gentleman of 
all his walables, and go out as a gentleman, and 
not like a common prig, without no honour nor 
glory r 

With this expression of feeling for his un- 
fortunate friend, Master Bates sat himself on the 
nearest chair with an aspect of chagrin and de- 
spondency. 

" What do you talk about his having neither 
honour nor glory for ?" exclaimed Fagin, dart- 
ing an angry look at his pupil. " Wasn't he 
always top-sawyer among you all ! — is there 
one of you that could touch him, or come near 
him on any scent — eh ?" 

" Not one," replied Master Bates, in a voice 
rendered husky by regret, — " not one." 

" Then what do you talk of?" replied the 
Jew angrily ; " what are you blubbering for ?" 

" 'Cause it isn't on the rec-ord, is it ?" said 



OLIVER TWIST. 123 

Charley, chafed into perfect defiance of his 
venerable friend by the current of his regrets ; 
" 'cause it can't come out in the indictment ; 
'cause nobody will never know half of what he 
was. How will he stand in the Newgate Ca- 
lendar ? P'raps not be there at all. Oh, my 
eye, my eye, wot a blow it is !" 

" Ha ! ha !" cried the Jew, extending his 
right hand, and turning to Mr. Bolter in a fit 
of chuckling which shook him as though he had 
the palsy ; " see what a pride they take in their 
profession, my dear. Isn't it beautiful ?" 

Mr. Bolter nodded assent ; and the Jew, after 
contemplating the grief of Charley Bates for 
some seconds with evident satisfaction, stepped 
up to that young gentleman, and patted him on 
the shoulder. 

" Never mind, Charley," said Fagin sooth- 
ingly ; " it'll come out, it'll be sure to come 
out. They '11 all know what a clever fellow he 
was ; he '11 show it himself, and not disgrace his 
old pals and teachers. Think how young he is 
too ! What a distinction, Charley, to be lagged 
at his time of life !" 



124 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Well, it is a honour, — that is I" said Char- 
ley, a little consoled. 

" He shall have all he wants," continued the 
Jew. Ci He shall be kept in the Stone Jug, 
Charley, like a gentleman — like a gentleman, 
with his beer every day, and money in his 
pocket to pitch and toss with, if he can't spend 
it." 

" No, shall he though ?" cried Charley Bates. 

" Ay, that he shall," replied the Jew, " and 
we '11 have a big-wig, Charley, — one that 's got 
the greatest gift of the gab, — to carry on his 
defence, and he shall make a speech for himself 
too, if he likes, and we '11 read it all in the 
papers — 6 Artful Dodger — shrieks of laughter 
— here the court was convulsed' — eh, Charley, 
eh ?" 

" Ha ! ha !" laughed Master Bates, " what 
a lark that would be, wouldn't it, Fagin ? I 
say, how the Artful would bother 'em, wouldn't 
he ?" 

" Would !" cried the Jew. " He shall— he 
will !" 

" Ah, to be sure, so he will," repeated Char- 
ley, rubbing his hands. 



OLIVER TWIST. 125 

" I think I see him now,'" cried the Jew, 
bending his eyes upon his pupil. 

" So do I," cried Charley Bates—" ha ! ha ! 
ha ! so do I. I see it all afore me, upon my 
soul I do, Fagin. What a game ! what a re- 
gular game ! All the big-wigs trying to look 
solemn, and Jack Dawkins addressing of 'em 
as intimate and comfortable as if he was the 
judge's own son making a speech arter dinner — 
ha ! ha ! ha P 

In fact the Jew had so well humoured his 
young friend's eccentric disposition, that Mas- 
ter Bates, who had at first been disposed to 
consider the imprisoned Dodger rather in the 
light of a victim, now looked upon him as the 
chief actor in a scene of most uncommon and 
exquisite humour, and felt quite impatient for 
the arrival of the time when his old companion 
should have so favourable an opportunity of dis- 
playing his abilities. 

" We must know how he gets on to-day by 
some handy means or other,*" said Fagin. " Let 
me think." 

« Shall I go ?" asked Charley. 

VOL. III. H 



J 26 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Not for the world," replied the Jew. 
" Are you mad, my dear ? — stark mad, that 
you 'd walk into the very place where — No, 
Charley, no — one is enough to lose at a time."" 

" You don't mean to go yourself, I sup- 
pose ?" said Charley with a humorous leer. 

u That wouldn't quite fit," replied Fagin 
shaking his head. 

" Then why don't you send this new cove ?" 
asked Master Bates, laying his hand on Noah's 
arm ; " nohody knows him." 

" Why, if he didn't mind," observed the 
Jew. 

" Mind !" interposed Charley. " What 
should he have to mind ?" 

" Really nothing, my dear," said Fagin, 
turning to Mr. Bolter, " really nothing." 

" Oh, I dare say about that, yer know," ob- 
served Noah, backing towards the door, and 
shaking his head with a kind of sober alarm. 
" No, no — none of that, It's not in my de- 
partment, that isn't." 

" Wot department has he got, Fagin ?" in- 
quired Master Bates, surveying Noah's lank 



OLIVER TWIST. 127 

form with much disgust. " The cutting away 
when there's anything wrong, and the eating all 
the wittles when there 's everything right ; is 
that his branch ?" 

" Never mind, 11 retorted Mr. Bolter ; " and 
don't yer take liberties with yer superiors, 
little boy, or yer 11 find yerself in the wrong 
shop. 1 " 

Master Bates laughed so vehemently at this 
magnificent threat, that it was some time before 
Fagin could interpose and represent to Mr. 
Bolter that he incurred no possible danger in 
visiting the police-office ; that, inasmuch as no 
account of the little affair in which he had been 
engaged, nor any description of his person, had 
yet been forwarded to the metropolis, it was 
very probable that he was not even suspected 
of having resorted to it for shelter ; and that, 
if he were properly disguised, it would be as 
safe a spot for him to visit as any in London, 
inasmuch as it would be of all places the very 
last to which he could be supposed likely to 
resort of his own free will. 

Persuaded, in part, by these representations, 

h % 



128 OLIVER TWIST. 

but overborne in a much greater degree by his 
fear of the Jew, Mr. Bolter at length con- 
sented, with a very bad grace, to undertake 
the expedition. By Fagin's directions he im- 
mediately substituted for his own attire a wag- 
goner's frock, velveteen breeches, and leather 
leggings, all of which articles the Jew had at 
hand. He was likewise furnished with a felt 
hat well garnished with turnpike tickets, and a 
carter's whip. Thus equipped he was to saun- 
ter into the office as some country fellow from 
Covent Garden market might be supposed to 
do for the gratification of his curiosity ; and as 
he was as awkward, ungainly, and raw-boned 
a fellow as need be, Mr. Fagin had no fear 
but that he would look the part to perfection. 

These arrangements completed, he was in- 
formed of the necessary signs and tokens by 
which to recognise the artful Dodger, and was 
conveyed by Master Bates through dark and 
winding ways to within a very short distance 
of Bow-street. Having described the precise 
situation of the office and accompanied it with 



OLIVER TWIST. 129 

copious directions how he was to walk straight 
up the passage, and when he got into the yard 
take the door up the steps on the right-hand 
side, and pull off his hat as he went into the 
room, Charley Bates bade him hurry on alone, 
and promised to bide his return on the spot of 
their parting. 

Noah Claypole, or Morris Bolter as the rea- 
der pleases, punctually followed the directions 
he had received, which — Master Bates being 
pretty well acquainted with the locality — were 
so exact that he was enabled to gain the ma- 
gisterial presence without asking any question, 
or meeting with any interruption by the way. 
He found himself jostled among a crowd of 
people, chiefly women, who were huddled 
together in a dirty frowsy room, at the upper 
end of which was a raised platform railed off 
from the rest, with a dock for the prisoners on 
the left hand against the wall, a box for the 
witnesses in the middle, and a desk for the 
magistrates on the right ; the awful locality 
last-named being screened off by a partition 



ISO OLIVER TWIST. 

which concealed the bench from the common 
gaze, and left the vulgar to imagine (if they 
could) the full majesty of justice. 

There were only a couple of women in the 
dock, who were nodding to their admiring 
friends, while the clerk read some depositions 
to a couple of policemen and a man in plain 
clothes who leant over the table. A jailer stood 
reclining against the dock-rail, tapping his nose 
listlessly with a large key, except when he 
repressed an undue tendency to conversation 
among the idlers, by proclaiming silence ; or 
looked sternly up to bid some woman " Take 
that baby out," when the gravity of justice was 
disturbed by feeble cries, half-smothered in the 
mother's shawl, from some meagre infant. 
The room smelt close and unwholesome, the 
walls were dirt-discoloured, and the ceiling 
blackened. There was an old smoky bust over 
the mantel-shelf, and a dusty clock above the 
dock — the only thing present that seemed to 
go on as it ought ; for depravity, or poverty, or 
an habitual acquaintance with both, had left a 
taint on all the animate matter, hardly less 



OLIVER TWIST. 131 

unpleasant than the thick greasy scum on every 
inanimate object that frowned upon it. 

Noah looked eagerly about him for the 
Dodger, but although there were several women 
who would have done very well for that dis- 
tinguished character's mother or sister, and 
more than one man who might be supposed to 
bear a strong resemblance to his father, nobody 
at all answering the description given him of 
Mr. Dawkins was to be seen. He waited in a 
state of much suspense and uncertainty until the 
women, being committed for trial, went flaunt- 
ing out, and then was quickly relieved by the 
appearance of another prisoner whom he felt at 
once could be no other than the object of his 
visit. 

It was indeed Mr. Dawkins, who, shuffling 
into the office with the big coat sleeves tucked 
up as usual, his left hand in his pocket and his 
hat in his right, preceded the jailer with a rol- 
ling gait altogether indescribable, and taking 
his place in the dock requested in an audible 
voice to know what he was placed in that 'ere 
disgraceful sitivation for. 



132 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Hold your tongue, will you ?" said the 
jailer. 

*' I'm an Englishman, an't I ?" rejoined the 
Dodger. " Where are my priwileges ?" 

" You '11 get your privileges soon enough,'" 
retorted the jailer, " and pepper with 'em. 1 ' 

" We '11 see wot the Secretary of State for 
the Home Affairs has got to say to the beaks, 
if I don't," replied Mr. Dawkins. " Now then, 
wot is this here business ? I shall thank the 
madg'strates to dispose of this here little affair, 
and not to keep me while they read the paper, 
for I 've got an appointment with a genelman 
in the city, and as I 'm a man of my word and 
wery punctual in business matters, he '11 go 
away if I ain't there to my time, and then 
pr'aps there won't be an action for damage 
against those as kept me away. Oh no, cer- 
tainly not !" 

At this point the Dodger, with a show of 
being very particular with a view to proceedings 
to be had thereafter, desired the jailer to com- 
municate " the names of them two old files as 
was on the bench," which so tickled the spec- 



OLIVER TWIST. 133 

tators that they laughed almost as heartily as 
Master Bates could have done if he had heard 
the request. 

" Silence there !" cried the jailer. 

" What is this P 11 inquired one of the magis- 
trates. 

'• A pick-pocketing case, your worship. 1 '* 

" Has that boy ever been here before ?" 

"He ought to have been a many times,* 
replied the jailer. " He has been pretty well 
everywhere else. / know him well, your wor- 
ship." 

" Oh ! you know me, do you P' 1 cried the 
Artful making a note of the statement. " Wery 
good. That's a case of deformation of charac- 
ter, any way. 1 ' 

Here there was another laugh, and another 
cry of silence. 

" Now then, where are the witnesses ?" said 
the clerk. 

" Ah ! that 's right, 11 added the Dodger. 
" Where are they ? I should like to see 'em. 11 

This wish was immediately gratified, for a 
policeman stepped forward who had seen the 

h 5 



134 OLIVER TWIST. 

prisoner attempt the pocket of an unknown 
gentleman, in a crowd, and indeed take a hand- 
kerchief therefrom, which being a very old one, 
he deliberately put back again, after trying it 
on his own countenance. For this reason he 
took the Dodger into custody as soon as he 
could get near him, and the said Dodger being 
searched had upon his person a silver snuff-box 
with the owner's name engraved upon the lid. 
This gentleman had been discovered on refer- 
ence to the Court Guide, and being then and 
there present, swore that the snuff-box was his, 
and that he had missed it on the previous day, 
the moment he had disengaged himself from the 
crowd before referred to. He had also re- 
marked a young gentleman in the throng par- 
ticularly active in making his way about, and 
that young gentleman was the prisoner before 
him. 

" Have you anything to ask this witness, 
boy ?" said the magistrate. 

" I wouldn't abase myself by descending to 
hold any conversation with him," replied the 
Dodger. 



OLIVER TWIST. 135 

" Have you anything to say at all ?" 

" Do you hear his worship ask if you've 
anything to say ?" inquired the jailer nudging 
the silent Dodger with his elbow. 

" I beg your pardon," said the Dodger, 
looking up with an air of abstraction. " Did 
you address yourself to me, my man ?" 

" I never see such an out-and-out young 
wagabond, your worship," observed the officer 
with a grin. '* Do you mean to say anything, 
you young shaver ?" 

61 No," replied the Dodger, " not here, for 
this ain't the shop for justice ; besides which my 
attorney is a-breakfasting this morning with the 
Wice President of the House of Commons ; but 
I shall have something to say elsewhere, and so 
will he, and so will a wery numerous and re- 
spectable circle of acquaintance as 11 make them 
beaks wish they'd never been born, or that 
they'd got their footman to hang 'em up to 
their own hat-pegs, 'afore they let 'em come 
out this morning to try it upon me. I '11 " 

"There, he's fully committed !" interposed 
the clerk. " Take him away." 



186 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Come on," said the jailer. 

" Oh ah ! I **11 come on," replied the Dodger, 
brushing his hat with the palm of his hand. 
" Ah ! (to the Bench) it 's no use your looking 
frightened ; I won't show you no mercy, not 
a ha'porth of it. You 7/ pay for this, my fine 
fellers ; I wouldn't be you for something. I 
wouldn't go free now if you was to fall down 
on your knees and ask me. Here, carry me off 
to prison. Take me away." 

With these last words the Dodger suffered 
himself to be led off by the collar, threatening 
till he got into the yard to make a parlia- 
mentary business of it ; and then grinning in 
the officer's face with great glee and self- 
approval. 

Having seen him locked up by himself in a 
little cell, Noah made the best of his way back 
to where he had left Master Bates. After 
waiting here some time he was joined by that 
young gentleman, who had prudently abstained 
from showing himself until he had looked care- 
fully abroad from a snug retreat, and ascer- 



OLIVER TWIST. 137 

tained that his new friend had not been fol- 
lowed by any impertinent person. 

The two hastened back together to bear to 
Mr. Fagin the animating news that the Dodger 
was doing* full justice to his bringing-up, and 
establishing for himself a glorious reputation. 



138 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XLIII. 

THE TIME ARRIVES FOR NANCY TO REDEEM HER PLEDGE 
TO ROSE MAYLIE. SHE FAILS. NOAH CLAYPOLE IS 
EMPLOYED BY FAGIN ON A SECRET MISSION. 

Adept as she was in all the arts of cunning 
and dissimulation, the girl Nancy could not 
wholly conceal the effect which the knowledge 
of the step she had taken, worked upon her 
mind. She remembered that both the crafty 
Jew and the brutal Sikes had confided to her 
schemes which had been hidden from all others, 
in the full confidence that she was trustworthy 
and beyond the reach of their suspicion ; and 
vile as those schemes were, desperate as were 
their originators, and bitter as were her feelings 
towards the Jew, who had led her step by step 
deeper and deeper down into an abyss of crime 
and misery, whence was no escape, still there 
were times when even towards him she felt 



OLIVER TWIST. 139 

some relenting lest her disclosure should bring 
him within the iron grasp he had so long eluded, 
and he should fall at last — richly as he merited 
such a fate — by her hand. 

But these were the mere wanderings of a 
mind unable wholly to detach itself from old 
companions and associations, though enabled to 
fix itself steadily on one object, and resolved not 
to be turned aside by any consideration. Her 
fears for Sikes would have been more powerful 
inducements to recoil while there was yet time ; 
but she had stipulated that her secret should be 
rigidly kept — she had dropped no clue which 
could lead to his discovery — she had refused, 
even for his sake, a refuge from all the guilt 
and wretchedness that encompassed her — and 
what more could she do ? She was resolved. 

Though every mental struggle terminated in 
this conclusion, they forced themselves upon 
her again and again, and left their traces too. 
She grew pale and thin even within a few days. 
At times she took no heed of what was passing 
before her, or no part in conversations where 
once she would have been the loudest. At 



140 OLIVER TWIST. 

others she laughed without merriment, and was 
noisy without cause or meaning. At others — 
often within a moment afterwards — she sat 
silent and dejected, brooding with her head 
upon her hands, while the very effort by which 
she roused herself told more forcibly than even 
these indications that she was ill at ease, and 
that her thoughts were occupied with matters 
very different and distant from those in course 
of discussion by her companions. 

It was Sunday night, and the bell of the 
nearest church struck the hour. Sikes and the 
Jew were talking, but they paused to listen. 
The girl looked up from the low seat on which 
she crouched and listened too, intently. Eleven. 

" An hour this side of midnight," said Sikes, 
raising the blind to look out and returning to 
his seat. " Dark and heavy it is too. A good 
night for business this. 1 ' 

" Ah r replied the Jew. " What a pity, 
Bill, my dear, that there 's none quite ready to 
be done." 

" You 're right for once," replied Sikes 
gruffly. "It is a pity, for I 'm in the humour 
too." 



OLIVER TWIST. 141 

The Jew sighed and shook his head de- 
spondingly. 

" We must make up for lost time when 
we Ve got things into a good train, that 's all 
I know," said Sikes. 

" f Fhat 's the way to talk, my dear," replied 
the Jew, venturing to pat him on the shoulder. 
" It does me good to hear you." 

" Does you good does it !" cried Sikes. 
« Well, so be it." 

" Ha ! ha ! ha !" laughed the Jew, as if he 
were relieved by even this concession. " You 're 
like yourself to-night, Bill — quite like your- 
self." 

" I don't feel like myself when you lay 
that withered old claw on my shoulder, so 
take it away," said Sikes casting off the Jew's 
hand. 

" It makes you nervous, Bill, — reminds you 
of being nabbed, does it ?" said the Jew, de- 
termined not to be oifended. 

" Reminds me of being nabbed by the devil," 
returned Sikes. " Not by a trap. There 
never was another man with such a face as 



142 OLIVER TWIST. 

yours, unless it was your father, and I suppose 
he is singeing his grizzled red beard by this 
time, unless you came straight from the old 'un 
without any father at all betwixt you, which 
I shouldn't wonder at a bit."*'' 

Fagin offered no reply to this compliment; 
but, pulling Sikes by the sleeve,, pointed his 
finger towards Nancy, who had taken advan- 
tage of the foregoing conversation to put on 
her bonnet, and was now leaving the room. 

" Hallo !" cried Sikes. " Nance. Where 's 
the gal going to at this time of night ?" 

" Not far." 

" What answer's that?" returned Sikes. 
" Where are you going ?" 

" I say, not far." 

" And I say where ?" retorted Sikes in a 
loud voice. "Do you hear me ?" 

" I don't know where," replied the girl. 

" Then I do," said Sikes, more in the spirit 
of obstinacy than because he had any real 
objection to the girl going where she listed. 
" Nowhere. Sit down." 



OLIVER TWIST. 143 

" I 'm not well. I told you that before," 
rejoined the girl. " I want a breath of air." 

" Put your head out of the winder, and take 
it there," replied Sikes. 

" There 'snot enough there," said the girl. 
" I want it in the street." 

" Then you won't have it," replied Sikes, 
with which assurance he rose, locked the door, 
took the key out, and pulling her bonnet 
from her head, flung it up to the top of an old 
press. " There," said the robber. " Now 
stop quietly where you are, will you." 

" It 's not such a matter as a bonnet would 
keep me," said the girl turning very pale. 
" What do you mean, Bill ? Do you know 
what you 're doing ?" 

" Know what I 'm Oh !" cried Sikes 

turning to Fagin, M she 's out of her senses, 
you know, or she daren't talk to me in that 
way." 

' ; You '11 drive me on to something despe- 
rate," muttered the girl placing both hands 
upon her breast as though to keep down by 



144 OLIVER TWIST. 

force some violent outbreak. " Let me go, 
will you, — this minute — this instant — " 

" No !" roared Sikes. 

" Tell him to let me go, Fagin. He had 
better. It "11 be better for him. Do you hear 
me ?" cried Nancy stamping her foot upon the 
ground. 

" Hear you !" repeated Sikes turning round 
in his chair to confront her. " Aye, and if I 
hear you for half a minute longer, the dog 
shall have such a grip on your throat as 11 tear 
some of that screaming voice out. Wot has 
come over you, you jade — wot is it ?" 

" Let me go, 11 said the girl with great 
earnestness ; then sitting herself down on the 
floor, before the door, she said, — " Bill, let me 
go ; you don't know what you 're doing — you 
don't, indeed. For only one hour — do — 
do" 

" Cut my limbs off one by one — " cried 
Sikes seizing her roughly by the arm — " if I 
don't think the gal's stark raving mad. Get 
up." 

" Not till you let me go — not till you let me 



OLIVER TWIST. 145 

go — Never — never !" screamed the girl. 
Sikes looked on for a rninnte watching his op- 
portunity, and suddenly pinioning her hands 
dragged her, struggling and wrestling with him 
by the way, into a small room adjoining, where 
he sat himself on a bench, and thrusting her 
into a chair, held her down by force. She 
struggled and implored by turns until twelve 
o'clock had struck, and then, wearied and ex- 
hausted, ceased to contest the point any further. 
With a caution, backed by many oaths, to 
make no more efforts to go out that night, 
Sikes left her to recover at leisure and rejoined 
the Jew. 

" Phew !" said the housebreaker wiping 
the perspiration from his face. " Wot a pre- 
cious strange gal that is !" 

" You may say that, Bill," replied the Jew 
thoughtfully. " You may say that." 

" Wot did she take it into her head to go 
out to-night for, do you think ?" asked Sikes. 
*' Come ; you should know her better than me 
— wot does it mean ?" 

" Obstinacy — woman's obstinacy, I suppose, 



146 OLIVER TWIST. 

my dear," replied the Jew shrugging his 
shoulders. 

" Well, I suppose it is," growled Sikes. 
" I thought I had tamed her, but she 's as bad 
as ever." 

" Worse," said the Jew thoughtfully. " I 
never knew her like this, for such a little 
cause." 

" Nor I," said Sikes. " I think she 's got a 
touch of that fever in her blood yet, and it 
won't come out — eh ?" 

" Like enough," replied the Jew. 

" 1 11 let her a little blood without troubling 
the doctor, if she 's took that way again," said 
Sikes. 

The Jew nodded an expressive approval of 
this mode of treatment. 

" She was hanging about me all day and 
night too when I was stretched on my back ; 
and you, like a black-hearted wolf as you are, 
kept yourself aloof," said Sikes. " We was 
very poor too all the time, and I think one way 
or other it 's worried and fretted her, and that 



OLIVER TWIST. 147 

being shut up here so long has made her restless 

—eh r 

44 That 's it, my dear," replied the Jew in a 
whisper. — " Hush I 1 ' 

As he uttered these words, the girl herself 
appeared and resumed her former seat. Her 
eyes were swollen and red ; she rocked her- 
self to and fro, tossed her head, and after a 
little time, burst out laughing. 

" Why, now she 's on the other tack !" ex- 
claimed Sikes, turning a look of excessive sur- 
prise upon his companion. 

The Jew nodded to him to take no further 
notice just then, and in a few minutes the girl 
subsided into her accustomed demeanour. Whis- 
pering- Sikes that there was no fear of her 
relapsing, Fagin took up his hat and bade 
him good-night. He paused when lie reached 
the door, and looking round, asked if some- 
body would light him down the dark stairs. 

"• Light him down," said Sikes, who was 
filling his pipe. " It 's a pity he should break 
his neck himself, and disappoint the sight- 
seers. There ; show him a light." 



148 OLIVER TWIST. 

Nancy followed the old man down stairs 
with the candle. When they reached the 
passage he laid his finger on his lip, and 
drawing close to the girl, said in a whisper, 

" What is it, Nancy, dear ?" 

u What do you mean ?" replied the girl in 
the same tone. 

" The reason of all this," replied Fagin. 

" If Ae" — he pointed with his skinny forn- 

finger up the stairs — " is so hard with you, 

(he 's a brute, Nance, a brute-beast) why 

don "t you " 

" Well !" said the girl, as Fagin paused, 
with his mouth almost touching her ear, and 
his eyes looking into hers. 

" No matter just now," said the Jew, 
" we'll talk of this again. You have a friend 
in me, Nance ; a staunch friend. I have the 
means at hand, quiet and close. If you want 
revenge on those that treat you like a dog — 
like a dog ! worse than his dog, for he hu- 
mours him sometimes — come to me. I say, 
come to me. He is the mere hound of a day, 
but you know me of old, Nance — of old." 



OLIVER TWIST. 149 

" I know you well," replied the girl, without 
manifesting the least emotion. " Good night." 

She shrunk back as Fagin offered to lay his 
hand on hers, but said good night again in a 
steady voice, and, answering his parting look 
with a nod of intelligence, closed the door be- 
tween them. 

Fagin walked towards his own home, intent 
upon the thoughts that were working within 
his brain. He had conceived the idea — not 
from what had just passed, though that had tend- 
ed to confirm him, but slowly and by degrees — 
that Nancy, wearied of the housebreaker's bru- 
tality, had conceived an attachment for some 
new friend. Her altered manner, her repeated 
absences from home alone, her comparative in- 
difference to the interests of the gang for which 
she had once been so zealous, and, added to 
these, her desperate impatience to leave home 
that night at a particular hour, all favoured the 
supposition, and rendered it, to him at least, 
almost a matter of certainty. The object of 
this new liking was not among his myrmidons. 
He would be a valuable acquisition with such 

VOL. III. I 



150 OLIVER TWIST. 

an assistant as Nancy, and must (thus Fagin 
argued) be secured without delay. 

There was another and a darker object to be 
gained. Sikes knew too much, and his ruffian 
taunts had not galled the Jew the less because 
the wounds were hidden. The girl must know 
well that if she shook him off, she could never 
be safe from his fury, and that it would be 
surely wreaked — to the maiming of limbs, or 
perhaps the loss of life — on the object of her 
more recent fancy. " With a little persua- 
sion," thought Fagin, " what more likely than 
that she would consent to poison him ? Women 
have done such things, and worse, to secure 
the same object before now. There would be 
the dangerous villain — the man I hate — gone ; 
another secured in his place ; and my influence 
over the girl, with the knowledge of this crime 
to back it, unlimited." 

These things passed through the mind of 
Fagin during the short time he sat alone in the 
housebreaker's room ; and with them uppermost 
in his thoughts, he had taken the opportunity 
afterwards afforded him of sounding the girl in 



OLIVER TWIST. 151 

the broken hints he threw out at parting. 
There was no expression of surprise, no as- 
sumption of an inability to understand his 
meaning. The girl clearly comprehended it. 
Her glance at parting showed that. t 

But perhaps she would recoil from a plot to 
take the life of Sikes, and that was one of the 
chief ends to be attained. " How," thought the 
Jew 5 as he crept homewards, " can I increase 
my influence with her ? what new power can I 
acquire ?" 

Such brains are fertile in expedients. If, 
without extracting a confession from herself, 
he laid a watch, discovered the object of her 
altered regard, and threatened to reveal the 
whole history to Sikes (of whom she stood in 
no common fear) unless she entered into his de- 
signs, could he not secure her compliance ? 

" I can," said Fagin almost aloud. " She 
durst not refuse me then — not for her life, not 
for her life ! I have it all. The means are 
ready, and shall be set to work. I shall have 
you yet." 

He cast back a dark look and a threatening 

\% 



152 OLIVER TWIST. 

motion of the hand towards the spot where he 
had left the holder villain, and went on his 
way, husying his bony hands in the folds of 
his tattered garment, which he wrenched 
tightly in his grasp as though there were a 
hated enemy crushed with every motion of his 
ringers. 

He rose betimes next morning, and waited 
impatiently for the appearance of his new asso- 
ciate, who, after a delay that seemed intermina- 
ble, at length presented himself, and commenced 
a voracious assault upon the breakfast. 

" Bolter," said the Jew, drawing up a chair 
and seating himself opposite Morris Bolter. 

" Well, here I am, 1 ' returned Noah. " What's 
the matter? Don't yer ask me to do any- 
thing till I have done eating. That's a great 
fault in this place. Yer never get time enough 
over yer meals." 

" You can talk as you eat, can't you ?" said 
Fagin, cursing his dear young friend's greediness 
from the very bottom of his heart. 

" Oh yes, I can talk ; I get on better when I 



OLIVER TWIST. 153 

talk," said Noah, cutting a monstrous slice of 
bread. " Where 'a Charlotte ?" 

" Out," said Fagin. " I sent her out this 
morning with the other young woman, because I 
wanted us to be alone." 

"Oh!" said Noah, " I wish yerM or- 
dered her to make some buttered toast first. 
Well. Talk away. Yer won't interrupt 
me." 

There seemed indeed no great fear of any- 
thing interrupting him, as he had evidently sat 
down with a determination to do a great deal of 
business. 

" You did well yesterday, my dear," said the 
Jew, " beautiful ! Six shillings and ninepence 
halfpenny on the very first day ! The kinchin 
lay will be a fortune to you." 

" Don't yer forget to add three pint-pots and 
a milk-can," said Mr. Bolter. 

" No, no, my dear," replied the Jew. " The 
pint-pots were great strokes of genius, but the 
milk-can was a perfect masterpiece." 

" Pretty well, I think, for a beginner," re- 



15-4 OLIVER TWIST. 

marked Mr. Bolter complacently. " The pots 
I took off airy railings, and the milk-can was 
standing by itself outside a public-house, so I 
thought it might get rusty with the rain, or 
catch cold, yer know. Ha ! ha ! ha !" 

The Jew affected to laugh very heartily ; and 
Mr. Bolter, having had his laugh' out, took a 
series of large bites, which finished his first 
hunk of bread and butter, and assisted himself 
to a second. 

" I want you, Bolter," said Fagin, leaning 
over the table, " to do a piece of work for me, 
my dear, that needs great care and caution.'" 

" I say," rejoined Bolter, " don't yer go 
shoving me into danger, or sending me to any 
more police-offices. That don't suit me, that 
don't ; and so I tell yer." 

" There 's not the smallest danger in it — not 
the very smallest," said the Jew ; " it 's only to 
dodge a woman." 

"An old woman ?" demanded Mr. Bolter. 

" A young one," replied Fagin. 

" I can do that pretty well, I know," said 
Bolter. " I was a regular cunning sneak when 



OLIVER TWIST. 155 

I was at school. What am I to dodge her for ? 
not to — " 

" Not to do anything, 11 interrupted the Jew, 
" hut to tell me where she goes to, who she 
sees, and, if possible, what she says ; to remem- 
ber the street, if it is a street, or the house, if 
it is a house, and to bring me back all the 
information you can. 11 

" What "11 yer give me P 11 asked Noah, set- 
ting down his cup, and looking his employer 
eagerly in the face. 

" If you do it well, a pound, my dear — one 
pound, 11 said Fagin, wishing to interest him in 
the scent as much as possible. " And that 's 
what I never gave yet for any job of work 
where there wasn't valuable consideration to be 
gained. 11 

" Who is she ?" inquired Noah. 

" One of us. 11 

" Oh Lor I 11 cried Noah, curling up his nose. 
" Yer doubtful of her, are yer ?" 

" She has found out some new friends, my 
dear, and I must know who they are, 11 replied 
the Jew. 



156 OLIVER TWIST. 

" I see," said Noah. " Just to have the 
pleasure of knowing them, if they 're respectable 
people, eh ? — Ha ! ha ! ha ! I 'm your man." 

" I knew you would be," cried Fagin, elated 
by the success of his proposal. 

" Of course, of course," replied Noah. 
<; Where is she? Where am I to wait for 
her ? When am I to go ?" 

" All that, my dear, you shall hear from me. 
I '11 point her out at the proper time," said 
Fagin. " You keep ready, and leave the rest 
to me." 

That night, and the next, and the next again^ 
the spy sat booted and equipped in his carter's 
dress, ready to turn out at a word from Fagin. 
Six nights passed, — six long weary nights, — and 
on each Fagin came home with a disappointed 
face, and briefly intimated that it was not yet 
time. On the seventh he returned earlier, and 
with an exultation he could not conceal. It was 
Sunday. 

" She goes abroad to-night," said Fagin, 
" and on the right errand, I 'm sure ; for she 
has been alone all day, and the man she is 



OLIVER TWIST. 157 

afraid of will not be back much before day- 
break. Come with me. Quick !" 

Noah started up without saying a word ; for 
the Jew was in a state of such intense ex- 
citement that it infected him. They left the 
house stealthily, and, hurrying through a laby- 
rinth of streets, arrived at length before a pub- 
lic-house, which Noah recognised as the same 
in which he had slept on the night of his arrival 
in London. 

It was past eleven o'clock, and the door was 
closed. It opened softly on its hinges as the 
Jew gave a low whistle. They entered without 
noise, and the door was closed behind them. 

Scarcely venturing to whisper, but substitut- 
ing dumb show for words, Fagin and the young 
Jew who had admitted them pointed out the 
pane of glass to Noah, and signed to him to 
climb up and observe the person in the adjoin- 
ing room. 

" Is that the woman ?" he asked, scarcely 
above his breath. 

The Jew nodded yes. 

" I can't see her face well,'" whispered Noah. 

i5 



158 OLIVER TWIST. 

" She is looking down, and the candle is behind 
her." 

" Stay there," whispered Fagin. He signed 
to Barney, who withdrew. In an instant the 
lad entered the room adjoining, and, under pre- 
tence of snuffing the candle, moved it into the 
required position, and, speaking to the girl, 
caused her to raise her face. 

" I see her now," cried the spy. 

" Plainly ?" asked the Jew. 

" I should know her among a thousand." 

He hastily descended as the room-door open- 
ed, and the girl came out. Fagin drew him 
behind a small partition which was curtained 
off, and they held their breaths as she passed 
within a few feet of their place of concealment, 
and emerged by the door at which they had 
entered. 

iC Hist !" cried the lad who held the door. 
" Now." 

Noah exchanged a look with Fagin, and 
darted out. 

" To the left," whispered the lad ; " take the 
left hand, and keep on the other side." 



OLIVER TWIST. 159 

He did so, and by the light of the lamps saw 
the girl's retreating figure already at some dis- 
tance before him. He advanced as near as he 
considered prudent, and kept on the opposite 
side of the street, the better to observe her 
motions. She looked nervously round twice or 
thrice, and once stopped to let two men who 
were following close behind her pass on. She 
seemed to gather courage as she advanced, and 
to walk with a steadier and firmer step. The 
spy preserved the same relative distance be- 
tween them, and followed with his eye upon 
her. 



160 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XLIV. 



THE APPOINTMENT KEPT. 



The church clocks chimed three quarters past 
eleven as two figures emerged on London Bridge. 
One, which advanced with a swift and rapid step, 
was that of a woman, who looked eagerly about 
her as though in quest of some expected ob- 
ject ; the other figure was that of a man, who 
slunk along in the deepest shadow he could find, 
and at some distance accommodated his pace to 
hers, stopping when she stopped, and, as she 
moved again, creeping stealthily on, but never 
allowing himself, in the ardour of his pursuit, to 
gain upon her footsteps. Thus they crossed the 
bridge from the Middlesex to the Surrey shore, 
when the woman, apparently disappointed in her 
anxious scrutiny of the foot-passengers, turned 



OLIVER TWIST. 161 

back. The movement was sudden, but he who 
watched her was not thrown off his guard by it, 
for shrinking into one of the recesses which sur- 
mount the piers of the bridge, and leaning over 
the parapet the better to conceal his figure, he 
suffered her to pass by on the opposite pave- 
ment, and when she was about the same dis- 
tance in advance as she had been before, he 
slipped quietly down and followed her again, 
At nearly the centre of the bridge she stopped. 
The man stopped too. 

It was a very dark night. The day had been 
unfavourable, and at that hour and place there 
were few people stirring. Such as there were 
hurried quickly past, very possibly without see- 
ing, but certainly without noticing, either the 
woman or the man who kept her in view. 
Their appearance was not calculated to attract 
the importunate regards of such of London's 
destitute population, as chanced to take their 
way over the bridge that night in search of 
some cold arch or doorless hovel wherein to lay 
their heads ; they stood there in silence, neither 
speaking nor spoken to by any one who passed. 



162 OLIVER TWIST. 

A mist hung over the river, deepening the 
red glare of the fires that burnt upon the small 
craft moored off the different wharfs, and ren- 
dering darker and more indistinct the mirky 
buildings on the banks. The old smoke-stained 
storehouses on either side rose heavy and dull 
from the dense mass of roofs and gables, and 
frowned sternly upon water too black to reflect 
even their lumbering shapes. The tower of old 
Saint Saviour's church, and the spire of Saint 
Magnus, so long the giant-warders of the an- 
cient bridge, were visible in the gloom ; but the 
forest of shipping below bridge, and the thickly 
scattered spires of churches above, were nearly 
all hidden from the sight. 

The girl had taken a few restless turns to 
and fro — closely watched meanwhile by her hid- 
den observer — when the heavy bell of St. Paul's 
tolled for the death of another day. Midnight 
had come upon the crowded city. The palace, 
the night-cellar, the jail, the madhouse; the 
chambers of birth and death, of health and sick- 
ness ; the rigid face of the corpse and the calm 
sleep of the child — midnight was upon them all. 



OLIVER TWIST. 163 

The hour had not struck two minutes, when 
a young lady, accompanied by a grey-haired 
gentleman, alighted from a hackney-carriage 
within a short distance of the bridge, and, hav- 
ing dismissed the vehicle, walked straight to- 
wards it. They had scarcely set foot upon its 
pavement when the girl started, and immediate- 
ly made towards them. 

They walked onwards, looking about them 
with the air of persons who entertained some 
very slight expectation which had little chance 
of being realised, when they were suddenly join- 
ed by this new associate. They halted with 
an exclamation of surprise, but suppressed it im- 
mediately, for a man in the garments of a coun- 
tryman came close up — brushed against them, 
indeed — at that precise moment. 

" Not here," said Nancy hurriedly. " I am 
afraid to speak to you here. Come away — 
out of the public road — down the steps 
yonder." 

As she uttered these words, and indicated 
with her hand the direction in which she wished 
them to proceed, the countryman looked round, 



164 OLIVER TWIST. 

and roughly asking what they took up the whole 
pavement for, passed on. 

The steps to which the girl had pointed were 
those which, on the Surrey bank, and on the 
same side of the bridge as Saint Saviour's church, 
form a landing-stairs from the river. To this 
spot the man bearing the appearance, of a coun- 
tryman hastened unobserved ; and after a mo- 
ment's survey of the place, he began to descend. 

These stairs are a part of the bridge ; they 
consist of three flights. Just below the end of 
the second, going down, the stone wall on the 
left terminates in an ornamental pilaster facing 
towards the Thames. At this point the lower 
steps widen, so that a person turning that 
angle of the wall is necessarily unseen by any 
others on the stairs who chance to be above 
him, if only a step. The countryman looked 
hastily round when he reached this point, 
and as there seemed no better place of con- 
cealment, and the tide being out there was 
plenty of room, he slipped aside, with his 
back to the pilaster, and there waited, pretty 
certain that they would come no lower, and that 




% 



OLIVER TWIST. 165 

even if he could not hear what was said, he 
could follow them again with safety. 

So tardily stole the time in this lonely place, 
and so eager was the spy to penetrate the mo- 
tives of an interview so different from what he 
had been led to expect, that he more than once 
gave the matter up for lost, and persuaded him- 
self either that they had stopped far above, or 
resorted to some entirely different spot to hold 
their mysterious conversation. He was on the 
very point of emerging from his hiding-place, 
and regaining the road above, when he heard 
the sound of footsteps, and directly afterwards 
of voices almost close at his ear. 

He drew himself straight upright against the 
wall, and, scarcely breathing, listened atten- 
tively. 

" This is far enough," said a voice, which was 
evidently that of the gentleman. " I will not 
suffer this young lady to go any further. Many 
people would have distrusted you too much to 
have come even so far, but you see I am will- 
ing to humour you." 

" To humour me !" cried the voice of the girl 



166 OLIVER TWIST. 

whom he had followed. " You 're considerate, 
indeed, sir. To humour me ! Well, well, 
it 's no matter." 

" Why, for what," said the gentleman in a 
kinder tone, " for what purpose can you have 
brought us to this strange place ? Why not 
have let me speak to you above there, where 
it is light, and there is something stirring, in- 
stead of bringing us to this dark and dismal 
hole ?" 

" I told you before," replied Nancy, " that I 
was afraid to speak to you there. I don't 
know why it is," said the girl, shuddering, 
" but I have such a fear and dread upon me to- 
night that I can hardly stand." 

" A fear of what ?" asked the gentleman, 
who seemed to pity her. 

" I scarcely know of what," replied the girl. 
" I wish I did. Horrible thoughts of death, 
and shrouds with blood upon them, and a fear 
that has made me burn as if I was on fire, have 
been upon me all day. I was reading a book 
to-night to wile the time away, and the same 
things came into the print." 



OLIVER TWIST. 167 

" ImagiDation, ,, said the gentleman, soothing 
her. 

" No imagination,'' 1 replied the girl in a 
hoarse voice. " I "11 swear I saw ' coffin ' written 
in every page of the book in large black letters, 
— ay, and they carried one close to me in the 
streets to-night." 

" There is nothing unusual in that," said the 
gentleman. " They have passed me often." 

" Real ones,'''' rejoined the girl. " This was 
not." 

There was something so uncommon in her 
manner that the flesh of the concealed listener 
crept as he heard the girl utter these words, and 
the blood chilled within him. He had never 
experienced a greater relief than hearing the 
sweet voice of the young lady as she begged her 
to be calm, and not allow herself to become 
the prey of such fearful fancies. 

ci Speak to her kindly," said the young lady 
to her companion. " Poor creature ! She seems 
to need it." 

" Your haughty religious people would have 
held their heads up to see me as I am to-night, 



168 OLIVER TWIST. 

and preached of flames and vengeance," cried 
the girl. " Oh, dear lady, why ar'n't those who 
claim to be God's own folks as gentle and as 
kind to us poor wretches as you, who, having 
youth and beauty and all that they have lost, 
might be a little proud instead of so much 
humbler !" 

" Ah !" said the gentleman, " a Turk turns 
his face, after washing it well, to the East when 
he says his prayers ; these good people, after 
giving their faces such a rub with the World as 
takes the smiles off, turn with no less regularity 
to the darkest side of Heaven. Between the 
Mussulman and the Pharisee, commend me to 
the first." 

These words appeared to be addressed to the 
young lady, and were perhaps uttered with 
the view of affording Nancy time to recover 
herself. The gentleman shortly afterwards ad- 
dressed himself to her. 

" You were not here last Sunday night," he 
said. 

" I couldn't come," replied Nancy ; " I was 
kept by force." 



OLIVER TWIST. 169 

« By whom ?" 

" Bill — Him that I told the young lady of 
before." 

" You were not suspected of holding any 
communication with anybody on the subject 
which has brought us here to-night, I hope ?" 
asked the old gentleman anxiously. 

" No," replied the girl, shaking her head. 
" It 's not very easy for me to leave him unless 
he knows why ; I couldn't have seen the lady 
when I did, but that I gave him a drink of 
laudanum before I came away." 

'* Did he awake before you returned ?" in- 
quired the gentleman. 

" No ; and neither he nor any of them sus- 
pect me." 

" Good," said the gentleman. " Now listen 
to me." 

" I am ready," replied the girl, as he paused 
for a moment. 

" This young lady," the gentleman began, 
" has communicated to me and some other 
friends who can be safely trusted, what you told 
her nearly a fortnight since. I confess to you 



170 OLIVER TWIST. 

that I had doubts at first whether you were to 
be implicitly relied upon, but now I firmly be- 
lieve you are." 

" I am," said the girl earnestly. 
" I repeat that I firmly believe it. To prove 
to you that I am disposed to trust you, I tell 
you without reserve, that we propose to extort 
the secret, whatever it may be, from the fears 
of this man Monks. But if — if — " said the 
gentleman, " he cannot be secured, or, if se- 
cured, cannot be acted upon as we wish, you 
must deliver up the Jew. 1 "' 

" Fagin !" cried the girl, recoiling. 
" That man must be delivered up by you," 
said the gentleman. 

" I will not do it — I will never do it," replied 
the girl. " Devil that he is, and worse than 
devil as he has been to me, I will never do 
that." 

" You will not ?" said the gentleman, who 
seemed fully prepared for this answer. 
" Never !" returned the girl* 
" Tell me why ?" 



OLIVER TWIST. 171 

" For one reason," rejoined the girl firmly, 
" for one reason, that the lady knows and will 
stand by me in, I know she will, for I have 
her promise ; and for this other reason besides, 
that, bad life as he has led, I have led a bad 
life too ; there are many of us who have kept 
the same courses together, and I '11 not turn 
upon them, who might — any of them — have 
turned upon me, but didn't, bad as they are.' 

" Then," said the gentleman quickly, as if 
this had been the point he had been aiming to 
attain — " put Monks into my hands, and leave 
him to me to deal with." 

" What if he turns against the others ?" 

" I promise you that in that case, if the 
truth is forced from him, there the matter will 
rest ; there must be circumstances in Oliver's 
little history which it would be painful to drag 
before the public eye, and if the truth is once 
elicited, they shall go scot free." 

" And if it is not ?" suggested the girl. 

" Then," pursued the gentleman, " this Jew 
shall not be brought to justice without your 



172 OLIVER TWIST. 

consent. In such a case I could show you 
reasons, I think, which would induce you to 
yield it." 

" Have I the lady's promise for that ?" asked 
the girl eagerly. 

" You have," replied Rose. " My true and 
faithful pledge." 

" Monks would never learn how you knew 
what you do ?" said the girl, after a short 
pause. 

" Never," replied the gentleman. " The 
intelligence should be so brought to bear upon 
him, that he could never even guess." 

" I have been a liar, and among liars from a 
little child," said the girl after another interval 
of silence, " but I will take your words." 

After receiving an assurance from both that 
she might safely do so, she proceeded in a voice 
so low that it was often difficult for the listener 
to discover even the purport of what she said, 
to describe by name and situation the public- 
house whence she had been followed that night. 
From the manner in which she occasionally 
paused, it appeared as if the gentleman were 



OLIVER TWIST. 173 

making some hasty notes of the information she 
communicated. When she had thoroughly ex- 
plained the localities of the place, the best posi- 
tion from which to watch it without exciting 
observation, and the night and hour on which 
Monks was most in the habit of frequenting it, 
she seemed to consider a few moments for the 
purpose of recalling his features and appearance 
more forcibly to her recollection. 

" He is tall," said the girl, " and a strongly 
made man, but not stout ; he has a lurking 
walk, and as he walks, constantly looks over his 
shoulder, first on one side and then on the 
other. Don't forget that, for his eyes are sunk 
in his head so much deeper than any other 
man's, that you might almost tell him by that 
alone. His face is dark, like his hair and eyes, 
but, although he can't be more than six or eight 
and twenty, withered and haggard. His lips 
are often discoloured and disfigured with the 
marks of teeth, for he has desperate fits, and 
sometimes even bites his hands and covers 
them with wounds — why did you start ?" said 
the girl, stopping suddenly. 

VOL. III. K 



174 OLIVER TWIST. 

The gentleman replied in a hurried manner 
that he was not conscious of having done so, 
and begged her to proceed. 

" Part of this," said the girl, " I've drawn 
out from other people at the house I tell you 
of, for I have only seen him twice, and both 
times he was covered up in a large cloak. I 
think that's all I can give you to know him 
by. Stay though, " she added. " Upon his 
throat, so high that you can see a part of it 
below his neckerchief when he turns his face, 
there is — " 

" A broad red mark, like a burn or scald," ' 
cried the gentleman. 

" How 's this !" said the girl. " You know 

him r 

The young lady uttered a cry of extreme 
surprise, and for a few moments they were so 
still that the listener could distinctly hear them 
breathe. 

" I think I do," said the gentleman, break- 
ing silence. " I should by your description. 
We shall see. Many people are singularly 



OLIVER TWIST. 175 

like each other, though, — it may not be the 
same." 

As he expressed himself to this effect with 
assumed carelessness, he took a step or two 
nearer the concealed spy, as the latter could 
tell from the distinctness with which he heard 
him mutter, " It must be he V 

" Now," he said, returning, so it seemed by 
the sound, to the spot where he had stood be- 
fore, " you have given us most valuable assist- 
ance, young woman, and I wish you to be the 
better for it. What can I do to serve you ?" 

" Nothing,'" replied Nancy. 

" You will not persist in saying that," re- 
joined the gentleman with a voice and em- 
phasis of kindness that might have touched a 
much harder and more obdurate heart. " Think 
now. Tell me." 

" Nothing, sir," rejoined the girl, weeping. 
" You can do nothing to help me. I am past 
all hope, indeed." 

" You put yourself beyond its pale," said 
the gentleman ; " the past has been a dreary 

K % 



176 OLIVER TWIST. 

waste with you, of youthful energies mis-spent, 
and such priceless treasures lavished as the 
Creator bestows but once and never grants 
again, but for the future you may hope. I do 
not say that it is in our power to offer you 
peace of heart and mind, for that must come 
as you seek it ; but a quiet asylum, either in 
England, or, if you fear to remain here, in some 
foreign country, it is not only within the com- 
pass of our ability but our most anxious wish 
to secure to you. Before the dawn of morning, 
before this river wakes to the first glimpse of 
daylight, you shall be placed as entirely beyond 
the reach of your former associates, and leave as 
utter an absence of all traces behind you, as if 
you were to disappear from the earth this 
moment. Come. I would not have you go 
back to exchange one word with any old com- 
panion, or take one look at any old haunt, or 
breathe the very air which is pestilence and 
death to you. Quit them all, while there is 
time and opportunity ." 

" She will be persuaded now, 1 ' cried the 
young lady. " She hesitates, I am sure." 



OLIVER TWIST. 177 

" I fear, not, my dear," said the gentle- 
man. 

" No sir, I do not," replied the girl after 
a short struggle. " I am chained to my old 
life. I loathe and hate it now, but I cannot 
leave it. I must have gone too far to turn 
back, — and yet I don't know, for if you had 
spoken to me so some time ago, I should have 
laughed it off. But," she said, looking hastily 
round, " this fear comes over me again. I must 
go home." 

" Home !" repeated the young lady, with 
great stress upon the word. 

" Home, lady," rejoined the girl. " To such 
a home as I have raised for myself with the 
work of my whole life. Let us part. I shall be 
watched or seen. Go, go. If I have clone you 
any service, all I ask is, that you leave me, and 
let me go my way alone." 

"It is useless," said the gentleman with a 
sigh. " We compromise her safety perhaps by 
staying here. We may have detained her 
longer than she expected already." 

" Yes, yes," urged the girl. " You have." 



178 OLIVER TWIST. 

" What," cried the young lady, " can be the 
end of this poor creature^ life?" 

66 What !" repeated the girl. " Look before 
you, lady. Look at that dark water. How 
many times do you read of such as we who 
spring into the tide, and leave no living thing 
to care for or bewail them. It may be years 
hence, or it may be only months, but I shall 
come to that at last." 

" Do not speak thus, pray," returned the 
young lady, sobbing. 

" It will never reach your ears, dear lady, 
and God forbid such horrors should !" — replied 
the girl. " Good night, good night." 

The gentleman turned away. 

" This purse," cried the young lady. M Take 
it for my sake, that you may have some re- 
source in an hour of need and trouble." 

" No, no," replied the girl. " I have not 
done this for money. Let me have that to think 
of. And yet — give me something that you 
have worn : I should like to have something — 
no, no, not a ring — your gloves or handker- 
chief— anything that I can keep as having 



OLIVER TWIST. 179 

belonged to you, sweet lady. There. Bless 
you — God bless you. Good night, good 
night." 

The violent agitation of the girl, and the 
apprehension of some discovery which would 
subject her to ill-usage and violence, seemed 
to determine the gentleman to leave her as she 
requested. The sound of retreating footsteps 
were audible, and the voices ceased. 

The two figures of the young lady and her 
companion soon afterwards appeared upon the 
bridge. They stopped at the summit of the 
stairs. 

" Hark !" cried the young lady, listening. 
"Did she call ! I thought I heard her voice." 

" No, my love," replied Mr. Brownlow, look- 
ing sadly back. " She has not moved, and will 
not till we are gone." 

Rose Maylie lingered, but the old gentleman 
drew her arm through his, and led her with 
gentle force away. As they disappeared, the 
girl sunk down nearly at her full length upon 
one of the stone stairs, and vented the anguish 
of her heart in bitter tears. 



180 OLIVER TWIST. 

After a time she rose, and with feeble and 
tottering steps ascended to the street. The 
astonished listener remained motionless on his 
post for some minutes afterwards, and having 
ascertained with many cautious glances round 
him that he was again alone, crept slowly from 
his hiding-place, and returned, stealthily and in 
the shade of the wall, in the same manner as 
he had descended. 

Peeping out more than once when he reached 
the top, to make sure that he was unobserved, 
Noah Claypole darted away at his utmost 
speed, and made for the Jew's house as fast as 
his legs would carry him. 



OLIVER TWIST. 181 



CHAPTER XLV. 



FATAL CONSEQUENCES. 



It was nearly two hours before daybreak — 
that time which in the autumn of the year may 
be truly called the dead of night, when the 
streets are silent and deserted, when even sound 
appears to slumber, and profligacy and riot have 
staggered home to dream — it was at this still 
and silent hour that the Jew sat watching in 
his old lair, with face so distorted and pale, and 
eyes so red and bloodshot, that he looked less 
like a man than like some hideous phantom, 
moist from the grave, and worried by an evil 
spirit. 

He sat crouching over a cold hearth, wrapped 
in an old torn coverlet, with his face turned 
towards a wasting candle that stood upon a 
table by his side. His right hand was raised 

K5 



182 OLIVER TWIST. 

to his lips, and as, absorbed in thought, he bit 
his long black nails, he disclosed among his 
toothless gums a few such fangs as should have 
been a dog's or rat's. 

Stretched upon a mattress on the floor lay 
Noah Claypole fast asleep. Towards him the 
old man sometimes directed his eyes for an 
instant, then brought them back again to the 
candle, which, with long-burnt wick drooping 
almost double, and hot grease falling down in 
clots upon the table, plainly showed that his 
thoughts were busy elsewhere. 

Indeed they were. Mortification at the over- 
throw of his notable scheme, hatred of the girl 
who had dared to palter with strangers, an 
utter distrust of the sincerity of her refusal to 
yield him up, bitter disappointment at the loss 
of his revenge on Sikes, the fear of detection 
and ruin and death, and a fierce and deadly 
rage kindled by all, — these were the passionate 
considerations that following close upon each 
other with rapid and ceaseless whirl shot 
through the brain of Fagin, as every evil 



OLIVER TWIST. 183 

thought and blackest purpose lay working at 
his heart. 

He sat without changing his attitude in the 
least, or appearing to take the smallest heed of 
time, until his quick ear seemed to be attracted 
by a footstep in the street. 

" At last," muttered the Jew, wiping his dry 
and fevered mouth. " At last." 

The bell rang gently as he spoke. He crept 
up stairs to the door, and presently returned 
accompanied by a man muffled to the chin, 
who carried a bundle under one arm. Sitting 
down and throwing back his outer coat, the 
man displayed the burly frame of Sikcs. 

" There," he said, laying the bundle on the 
table. " Take care of that, and do the most 
you can with it. It 's been trouble enough to 
get ; I thought I should have been here three 
hours ago." 

Fagin laid his hand upon the bundle, and 
locking it in the cupboard, sat down again 
without speaking. But he did not take his 
eyes off the robber for an instant during this 



184 OLIVER TWIST. 

action, and now that they sat over against 
each other face to face, he looked fixedly at 
him, with his lips quivering so violently, and 
his face so altered hy the emotions which had 
mastered him, that the housebreaker involun- 
tarily drew back his chair, and surveyed him 
with a look of real affright. 

" Wot now ?" cried Sikes. " Wot do you 
look at a man so for ?— Speak, will you ?" 

The Jew raised his right hand, and shook his 
trembling forefinger in the air, but his passion 
was so great, that the power of speech was for 
the moment gone. 

" Damme !" said Sikes, feeling in his breast 
with a look of alarm. " He's gone mad. I 
must look to myself here. 11 

" No, no, 11 rejoined Fagin, finding his voice. 
" It 's not — you 're not the person, Bill. I Ve 
no — no fault to find with you. 11 

" Oh, you haven't, haven't you ?" said Sikes, 
looking sternly at him, and ostentatiously pass- 
ing a pistol into a more convenient pocket. 
" That's lucky — for one of us. Which one 
that is, don't matter." 



OLIVER TWIST. 185 

" I Ve got that to tell you, Bill," said the 
Jew, drawing his chair nearer, " will make 
you worse than me." 

" Aye ?" returned the robber with an incre- 
dulous air. " Tell away. Look sharp, or 
Nance will think I 'm lost." 

"Lost!" cried Fagin. "She has pretty 
well settled that in her own mind already." 

Sikes looked with an aspect of great per- 
plexity into the Jew's face, and reading no 
satisfactory explanation of the riddle there, 
clenched his coat collar in his huge hand, and 
shook him soundly. 

" Speak, will you !" he said ; " or if you 
don't, it shall be for want of breath. Open 
your mouth and say wot you Ve got to say in 
plain words. Out with it, you thundering old 
cur, out with it." 

" Suppose that lad that 's lying there " 

Fagin began. 

Sikes turned round to where Noah was 
sleeping as if he had not previously observed 
him. " Well," he said, resuming his former 
position. 



186 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Suppose that lad," pursued the Jew, 
" was to peach — blow upon us all — first seek- 
ing out the right folks for the purpose, and 
then having a meeting with 'em in the street to 
paint our likenesses, describe every mark that 
they might know us by, and the crib where we 
might be most easily taken. Suppose he was 
to do all this, and besides to blow upon a plant 
we Ve all been in, more or less — of his own 
fancy ; not grabbed, trapped, tried, earwigged 
by the parson and brought to it on bread and 
water, — but of his own fancy; to please his 
own taste ; stealing out at nights to find those 
most interested against us, and peaching to them. 
Do you hear me ?" cried the Jew, his eyes 
flashing with rage. " Suppose he did all this, 
what then ?" 

" What then !" replied Sikes with a tre- 
mendous oath. " If he was left alive till I 
came, I 'd grind his skull under the iron heel of 
my boot into as many grains as there are hairs 
upon his head." 

" What if / did it V" cried the Jew almost 



OLIVER TWIST. 187 

in a yell. " /, that know so much, and could 
hang so many besides myself!" 

" I don't know," replied Sikes, clenching his 
teeth and turning white at the mere suggestion. 
" I 'd do something in the jail that 'ud get me 
put in irons ; and if I was tried along with you, 
I 'd fall upon you with them in the open court, 
and beat your brains out afore the people. I 
should have such strength," muttered the 
robber, poising his brawny arm, " that I could 
smash your head as if a loaded waggon had gone 
over it." 

" You would." 

" Would I !" said the housebreaker. " Try 
me. 11 

" If it was Charley, or the Dodger, or Bet, 
or " 

" I don't care who," replied Sikes im- 
patiently. " Whoever it was, I'd serve them 
the same." 

Fagin again looked hard at the robber, and 
motioning him to be silent, stooped over the 
bed upon the floor, and shook the sleeper to 



188 OLIVER TWIST. 

rouse him. Sikes leant forward in his chair, 
looking on with his hands upon his knees as if 
wondering much what all this questioning and 
preparation was to end in. 

" Bolter, Bolter. Poor lad V* said Fagin, 
looking up with an expression of devilish anti- 
cipation, and speaking slowly and with marked 
emphasis. " He "s tired — tired with watching 
for her so long, — watching for her, Bill." 

" Wot d' ye mean ?" asked Sikes, drawing 
back. 

The Jew made no answer, but bending over 
the sleeper again, hauled him into a sitting 
posture. When his assumed name had been 
repeated several times, Noah rubbed his eyes, 
and giving a heavy yawn looked sleepily about 
him. 

" Tell me that again — once again, just for 
him to hear," said the Jew, pointing to Sikes as 
he spoke. 

" Tell yer what ?" asked the sleepy Noah, 
shaking himself pettishly. 

" That about — Nancy," said the Jew, clutch- 
ing Sikes by the wrist, as if to prevent his 



OLIVER TWIST. 189 

leaving the house before he had heard enough. 
" You followed her ?" 

« Yes." 

" To London Bridge ? " 

" Yes." 

" Wheje she met two people ?" 

« So she did." 

" A gentleman, and a lady that she had 
gone to of her own accord before, who asked 
her to give up all her pals, and Monks first, 
which she did — and to describe him, which she 
did — and to tell her what house it was that we 
meet at and go to, which she did — and where it 
could be best watched from, which she did — and 
what time the people went there, which she did. 
She did all this. She told it all every word with- 
out a threat, without a murmur — she did — 
didn't she ?" cried the Jew, half mad with fury. 

" All right,"' replied Noah, scratching his 
head. " That's just what it was !" 

" What did they say about last Sunday ?" 
demanded the Jew. 

" About last Sunday !" replied Noah, consi- 
dering. " Why, I told yer that before." 



190 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Again. Tell it again !" cried Fagin, tight- 
ening his grasp on Sikes, and brandishing his 
other hand aloft as the foam flew from his lips. 

" They asked her, 11 said Noah, who, as he 
grew more wakeful, seemed to have a dawning 
perception who Sikes was, " they asked her 
why she didn't come last Sunday as she pro- 
mised. She said she couldn't — n 

" Why — why ?" interrupted the Jew tri- 
umphantly. " Tell him that. 11 

" Because she was forcibly kept at home by 
Bill, the man she had told them of before, 1 '' 
replied Noah. 

" What more of him ?" cried the Jew. 
" What more of the man she had told them of 
before ? Tell him that, tell him that. 11 

" Why, that she couldn^ very easily get out 
of doors unless he knew where she was going 
to, 11 said Noah ; " and so the first time she 
went to see the lady, she — ha ! ha ! ha ! it 
made me laugh when she said it, that it did 
— she gave him a drink of laudanum. 11 

" Hell's fire I 11 cried Sikes, breaking fiercely 
from the Jew. " Let me go !" 



OLIVER TWIST. 191 

Flinging the old man from him, he rushed 
from the room, and darted wildly and furi- 
ously up the stairs. 

" Bill, Bill !" cried the Jew, following 
him hastily. " A word. Only a word." 

The word would not have been exchanged, 
but that the housebreaker was unable to open 
the door, on which he was expending fruitless 
oaths and violence when the Jew came panting 
up. 

" Let me out, 11 said Sikes. " Don't speak to 
me — it's not safe. Let me out, I say." 

" Hear me speak a word," rejoined the 
Jew, laying his hand upon the lock, " You 
won't be " 

" Well,"* replied the other. 

" You won't be — too — violent, Bill ?" whined 
the Jew. 

The day was breaking, and there was light 
enough for the men to see each other's faces. 
They exchanged one brief glance ; there was a 
fire in the eyes of both which could not be mis- 
taken. 

" I mean," said Fagin, showing that he felt 



192 OLIVER TWIST. 

all disguise was now useless, " not too vio- 
lent for safety. Be crafty, Bill, and not too 
bold:' 

Sikes made no reply, but, pulling open the 
door of which the Jew had turned the lock, 
dashed into the silent streets. 

Without one pause or moment's consider- 
ation, without once turning his head to the 
right or left or raising his eyes to the sky or 
lowering them to the ground but looking 
straight before him with savage resolution, his 
teeth so tightly compressed that the strained 
jaw seemed starting through his skin, the rob- 
ber held on his headlong course, nor muttered 
a word, nor relaxed a muscle, until he reached 
his own door. He opened it softly with a 
key, strode lightly up the stairs, and entering 
his own room, double-locked the door, and 
lifting a heavy table against it, drew back the 
curtain of the bed. 

The girl was lying half- dressed upon it. 
He had roused her from her sleep, for she 
raised herself with a hurried and startled 
look. 



OLIVER TWIST. 193 

" Get up," said the man. 

" It is you, Bill !" said the girl, with an ex- 
pression of pleasure at his return. 

" It is," was the reply. " Get up." 

There was a candle burning, but the man 
hastily drew it from the candlestick and hurled 
it under the grate. Seeing the faint light of 
early day without, the girl rose to undraw the 
curtain. 

" Let it be," said Sikes, thrusting his hand 
before her. " There's light enough for wot IVe 
got to do." 

" Bill," said the girl, in the low voice of 
alarm, " why do you look like that at me ?" 

The robber sat regarding her for a few se- 
conds with dilated nostrils and heaving breast, 
and then grasping her by the head and throat 
dragged her into the middle of the room, and 
looking once towards the door, placed his heavy 
hand upon her mouth. 

" Bill, Bill — " gasped the girl, wrestling with 
the strength of mortal fear, — "I — I won't 
scream or cry — not once — hear me — speak to 
me — tell me what I have done." 



194 OLIVER TWIST. 

" You know, you she devil !" returned the 
robber, suppressing his breath. " You were 
watched to-night ; every word you said was 
heard." 

" Then spare rny life for the love of Heaven 
as I spared yours," rejoined the girl, clinging 
to him. " Bill, dear Bill, you cannot have 
the heart to kill me. Oh ! think of all I have 
given up only this one night for you. You 
shall have time to think, and save yourself 
this crime ; I will not loose my hold, you can- 
not throw me off. Bill, Bill, for dear God's 
sake, for your own, for mine, stop before you 
spill my blood. I have been true to you, upon 
my guilty soul I have." 

The man struggled violently to release his 
arms, but those of the girl were clasped round 
his, and tear her as he would he could not 
tear them away. 

" Bill," cried the girl, striving to lay her head 
upon his breast, " the gentleman and that dear 
lady told me to-night of a home in some fo- 
reign country where I could end my days in 
solitude and peace. Let me see them again, 



OLIVER TWIST. 195 

and beg them on my knees to show the same 
mercy and goodness to you, and let us both 
leave this dreadful place, and far apart lead 
better lives, and forget how we have lived ex- 
cept in prayers, and never see each other more. 
It is never too late to repent. They told me 
so — I feel it now — but we must have time — 
a little, little time !" 

The housebreaker freed one arm, and grasped 
his pistol. The certainty of immediate detec- 
tion if he fired flashed across his mind even in 
the midst of his fury, and he beat it twice 
with all the force he could summon, upon 
the upturned face that almost touched his 
own. 

She staggered and fell, nearly blinded with 
the blood that rained down from a deep gash 
in her forehead, but raising herself with dif- 
ficulty on her knees drew from her bosom a 
white handkerchief — Rose Maylie's own — and 
holding it up in her folded hands as high to- 
wards Heaven as her feeble strength would let 
her, breathed one prayer for mercy to her 
Maker. 



196 OLIVER TWIST. 

It was a ghastly figure to look upon. The 
murderer staggering backward to the wall, and 
shutting out the sight with his hand, seized a 
heavy club and struck her down. 



OLIVER TWIST. 197 



CHAPTER XLVI. 



THE FLIGHT OF SIKES. 



Of all bad deeds that under cover of the 
darkness had been committed within wide Lon- 
don's bounds since night hung over it, that was 
the worst. Of all the horrors that rose with an 
ill scent upon the morning air, that was the 
foulest and most cruel. 

The sun, — the bright sun, that brings back not 
light alone, but new life and hope and freshness 
to man — burst upon the crouded city in clear 
and radiant glory. Through costly-coloured 
glass and paper-mended window, through ca- 
thedral dome and rotten crevice, it shed its 
equal ray. It lighted up the room where the 
murdered woman lay. It did. He tried to 
shut it out, but it would stream in. If the 
sight had been a ghastly one in the dull morn- 

VOL. III. L 



198 OLIVER TWIST. 

ing, what was it now in all that brilliant 
light ! 

He had not moved : he had been afraid to 
stir. There had been a moan and motion of 
the hand ; and with terror added to hate he 
had struck and struck again. Once he threw 
a rug over it ; but it Was worse to fancy the 
eyes, and imagine them moving towards him, 
than to see them glaring upwards as if watching 
the reflection of the pool of gore that quivered 
and danced in the sunlight on the ceiling. 
He had plucked it off again. And there was 
the body — mere flesh and blood, no more — but 
such flesh, and such blood ! 

He struck a light, kindled a fire, and thrust 
the club into it. There was human hair upon 
the end which blazed and shrunk into a light 
cinder, and, caught by the air, whirled up the 
chimney. Even that frightened him, sturdy as 
he was, but he held the weapon till it broke, 
and then piled it on the coals to burn away, 
and smoulder into ashes. He washed himself 
and rubbed his clothes ; there were spots that 
would not be removed, but he cut the pieces 



OLIVER TWIST. 199 

out, and burnt them. How those stains were 
dispersed about the room ! The very feet of 
the clog were bloody. 

All this time he had never once turned his 
back upon the corpse ; no, not for a moment. 
Such preparations completed, he moved back- 
wards towards the door, dragging the dog with 
him, lest he should carry out new evidences of 
the crime into the streets. He shut the door 
softly, locked it, took the key, and left the house. 

He crossed over, and glanced up at the win- 
dow, to be sure that nothing was visible from 
the outside. There was the curtain still drawn, 
which she would have opened to admit the 
light she never saw again. It lay nearly under 
there. He knew that. God, how the sun 
poured down upon the very spot ! 

The glance was instantaneous. It was a re- 
lief to have got free of the room. He whistled 
on the dog, and walked rapidly away. 

He went through Islington ; strode up the hill 
at Highgate on which stands the stone in ho- 
nour of Whittington ; turned down to Highgate 
Hill, unsteady of purpose, and uncertain where to 



200 OLIVER TWIST. 

go ; struck off to the right again almost as soon 
as he began to descend it, and taking the foot 
path across the fields, skirted Caen Wood, and 
so came out on Hampstead Heath. Traversing 
the hollow by the Vale of Health, he mounted 
the opposite bank, and crossing the road which 
joins the villages of Hampstead and Highgate, 
made along the remaining portion of the heath 
to the fields at North End, in one of which he 
laid himself down under a hedge and slept. 

Soon he was up again, and away, — not far 
into the country, but back towards London by 
the high-road — then back again — then over an- 
other part of the same ground as he had already 
traversed — then wandering up and down in 
fields and lying on ditches' 1 brinks to rest, and 
starting up to make for some other spot and do 
the same, and ramble on again. 

Where could he go to, that was near and not 
too public, to get some meat and drink ? Hen- 
don. That was a good place, not far off, and 
out of most people's way. Thither he directed 
his steps, — running sometimes, and sometimes, 
with a strange perversity, loitering at a snail's 



OLIVER TWIST. 201 

pace, or stopping altogether and idly breaking 
the hedges with his stick. But when he got 
there, all the people he met — the very children 
at the doors — seemed to view him with suspi- 
cion. Back he turned again, without the cou- 
rage to purchase bit or drop, though he had 
tasted no food for many hours ; and once more 
he lingered on the Heath, uncertain where to 
go. 

He wandered over miles and miles of ground 
and still came back to the old place ; morning and 
noon had passed, and the day was on the wane, 
and still he rambled to and fro, and up and 
down, and round and round, and still lingered 
about the same spot. At last he got away, 
and shaped his course for Hatfield. 

It was nine o'clock at night when the man 
quite tired out, and the dog limping and lame 
from the unaccustomed exercise, turned down 
the hill by the church of the quiet village, and 
plodding along the little street crept into a small 
public-house, whose scanty light had guided 
them to the spot. There was a fire in the tap- 
room, and some country-labourers were drink- 



202 OLIVER TWIST. 

ing before it. They made room for the stranger, 
but he sat down in the furthest corner, and ate 
and drank alone, or rather with his dog, to 
whom he cast a morsel of food from time to 
time. 

The conversation of the men assembled here 
turned upon the neighbouring land and farmers, 
and when those topics were exhausted, upon the 
age of some old man who had been buried on 
the previous Sunday ; the young men present 
considering him very old, and the old men pre- 
sent declaring him to have been quite young — 
not older, one white-haired grandfather said, 
than he was — with ten or fifteen year of life in 
him at least — if he had taken care ; if he had 
taken care. 

There was nothing to attract attention or ex- 
cite alarm in this. The robber, after paying 
his reckoning, sat silent and unnoticed in his 
corner, and had almost dropped asleep, when he 
was half wakened by the noisy entrance of a 
new-comer. 

This was an antic fellow, half pedlar and 
half mountebank, who travelled about the 



OLIVER TWIST. 

country on foot to vend hones, strops, razors, 
washballs, harness-paste, medicines for dogs and 
horses, cheap perfumery, cosmetics, and such- 
like wares, which he carried in a case slung to 
his back. His entrance was the signal for vari- 
ous homely jokes with the countrymen, which 
slackened not until he had made his supper, and 
opened his box of treasures, when he ingenious- 
ly contrived to unite business with amusement. 

" And what be that stoof — good to eat, 
Harry ?" asked a grinning countryman, pointing 
to some composition-cakes in one corner. 

" This,"" said the fellow, producing one, " this 
is the infallible and invaluable composition for 
removing all sorts of stain, rust, dirt, mildew, 
spick, speck, spot, or spatter, from silk, satin, 
linen, cambric, cloth, crape, stuff, carpet, me- 
rino, muslin, bombazeen, or woollen stuff. 
Wine stains, fruit stains, beer stains, water 
stains, paint stains, pitch stains, any stains — all 
come out at one rub with the infallible and in- 
valuable composition. If a lady stains her ho- 
nour, she has only need to swallow one cake 
and she 's cured at once — for it 's poison. If a 



204 OLIVER TWIST. 

gentleman wants to prove his, he has only need 
to bolt one little square, and he has put it be- 
yond question — for it 's quite as satisfactory as 
a pistol-bullet, and a great deal nastier in the 
flavour, consequently the more credit in taking 
it. One penny a square. With all these 
virtues, one penny a square. 1 ' 

There were two buyers directly, and more 
of the listeners plainly hesitated. The vender 
observing this, increased in loquacity. 

" It's all bought up as fast as it can be 
made,'" said the fellow. " There are fourteen 
water-mills, six steam-engines, and a galvanic 
battery always a-working upon it, and they 
can't make it fast enough, though the men work 
so hard that they die oiF, and the widows is 
pensioned directly with twenty pound a-year for 
each of the children, and a premium of fifty for 
twins. One penny a square — two halfpence is 
all the same, and four farthings is received with 
joy. One penny a-square. Wine -stains, fruit- 
stains, beer-stains, water-stains, paint-stains, 
pitch-stains, mud-stains, blood-stains — here is 
a stain upon the hat of a gentleman in company 



OLIVER TWIST. 205 

that I '11 take clean out before he can order me 
a pint of ale." 

" Hah !" cried Sikes starting up. " Give that 
back." 

" I '11 take it clean out, sir," replied the man, 
winking to the company, " before you can come 
across the room to get it. Gentlemen all, ob- 
serve the dark stain upon this gentleman's hat, 
no wider than a shilling, but thicker than a 
half-crown. Whether it is a wine-stain, fruit- 
stain, beer-stain, water-stain, paint-stain, pitch- 
stain, mud-stain, or blood-stain — " 

The man got no farther, for Sikes with a 
hideous imprecation overthrew the table, and 
tearing the hat from him, burst out of the 
house. 

With the same perversity of feeling and irre- 
solution that had fastened upon him, despite 
himself, all day, the murderer, finding that he 
was not followed, and that they most probably 
considered him some drunken sullen fellow, 
turned back up the town, and getting out of 
the glare of the lamps of a stage-coach that was 
standing in the street, was walking past, when 

l 5 



206 OLIVER TWIST. 

lie recognised the mail from London, and saw 
that it was standing at the little post-office. He 
almost knew what was to come, but he crossed 
over and listened. 

The guard was standing at the door waiting 
for the letter-bag. A man dressed like a game- 
keeper came up at the moment, and he handed 
him a basket which lay ready on the pavement. 

" That 's for your people,"" said the guard. 
" Now, look alive in there, will you.'' 1 

" Damn that 'ere bag, it warn't ready night 
afore last : this won't do, you know. 11 

"Anything new up in town, Ben? 11 asked 
the gamekeeper, drawing back to the window- 
shutters, the better to admire the horses. 

" No, nothing that I knows on, 11 replied the 
man, pulling on his gloves. " Corn 's up a 
little. I heerd talk of a murder, too, down 
Spitalfields way, but I don't reckon much upon 
it. 1 ' 

"Oh, that 's quite true," said a gentleman 
inside, who was looking out of the window, 
" And a very dreadful murder it was/' 



* OLIVER TWIST. 207 

" Was it, sir ?" rejoined the guard, touching 
his hat. " Man or woman, pray, sir ?" 

" A woman, 11 replied the gentleman. "It is 
supposed " 

" Now, Ben," cried the coachman impa- 
tiently. 

" Damn that 'ere bag," said the guard ; 
" are you gone to sleep in there ?" 

" Coming," cried the office-keeper, running 
out. 

" Coming," growled the guard. " Ah, and 
so 's the young 'ooman of property that 's going 
to take a fancy to me, but I don't know when. 
Here, give hold. All ri — ight !" 

The horn sounded a few cheerful notes, and 
the coach was gone. 

Sikes remained standing in the street, appa- 
rently unmoved by what he had just heard, and 
agitated by no stronger feeling than a doubt 
where to go. At length he went back again, 
and took the road which leads from Hatfield to 
St. Albans. 

He went on doggedly ; but as he left the 



208 OLIVER TWIST. * 

town behind him, arid plunged further and 
further into the solitude and darkness of the 
road, he felt a dread and awe creeping upon 
him which shook him to the core. Every ob- 
ject before him, substance or shadow, still or 
moving, took the semblance of some fearful 
thing ; but these fears were nothing compared 
to the sense that haunted him of that morning's 
ghastly figure following at his heels. He could 
trace its shadow in the gloom, supply the 
smallest item of the outline, and note how stiff 
and solemn it seemed to stalk along. He could 
hear its garments rustling in the leaves, and 
every breath of wind came laden with that last 
low cry. If he stopped, it did the same. If 
he ran, it followed — not running too, that would 
have been a relief, but like a corpse endowed 
with the mere machinery of life, and borne 
upon one slow melancholy wind that never rose 
or fell. 

At times he turned with desperate deter- 
mination, resolved to beat this phantom off, 
though it should look him dead ; but the hair 
rose from his head, and his blood stood still ; 



OLIVER TWIST. 

for it had turned with him and was behind him 
then. He had kept it before him that morning-, 
but it was behind him now — always. He leant 
his back against a bank, and felt that it stood 
above him, visibly out against the cold night- 
sky. He threw himself upon the road — on 
his back upon the road. At his head it stood, 
silent, erect, and still — a living grave-stone with 
its epitaph in blood. 

Let no man talk of murderers escaping 
justice, and hint that Providence must sleep. 
There were twenty score of violent deaths in 
one long minute of that agony of fear. 

There was a shed in a field he passed that 
offered shelter for the night. Before the door 
were three tall poplar trees, which made it very 
dark within, and the wind moaned through 
them with a dismal wail. He could not walk 
on till daylight came again, and here he stretch- 
ed himself close to the wall — to undergo new 
torture. 

For now a vision came before him, as constant 
and more terrible than that from which he had 
escaped. Those widely staring eyes, so lustre- 



210, OLIVER TWIST. 

less and so glassy, that he had better borne to 
see than think upon, appeared in the midst of 
the darkness ; light in themselves, but giving 
light to nothing. There were but two, but 
they were everywhere. If he shut out the 
sight, there came the room with every well- 
known object — some, indeed, that he would 
have forgotten if he had gone over its con- 
tents from memory — each in its accustom- 
ed place. The body was in its place, and 
its eyes were as he saw them when he stole 
away. He got up and rushed into the field 
without. The figure was behind him. He re- 
entered the shed and shrunk down once more. 
The eyes were there before he had lain himself 
along. 

And here he remained in such terror as none 
but he can know, trembling in every limb, and 
the cold sweat starting from every pore, when 
suddenly there arose upon the night-wind the 
noise of distant shouting, and the roar of voices 
mingled in alarm and wonder. Any sound of 
men in that lonely place, even though it con- 
veyed a real cause of alarm, was something to 



OLIVER TWIST. 211 

him. He regained his strength and energy at 
the prospect of personal danger, and springing 
to his feet rushed into the open air. 

The hroad sky se'emed on fire. Rising into 
the air with showers of sparks, and rolling one 
above the other, were sheets of flame, lighting 
the atmosphere for miles round, and driving 
clouds of smoke in the direction where he 
stood. The shouts grew louder as new voices 
swelled the roar, and he could hear the cry of 
Fire mingled with the ringing of an alarm-bell, 
the fall of heavy bodies, and the crackling of 
flames as they twined round some new obstacle, 
aud shot aloft as though refreshed by food. 
The noise increased as he looked. There were 
people there — men and women — light, bustle. 
It was like new life to him. He darted on- 
ward — straight, headlong — dashing through 
brier and brake and leaping gate and fence as 
madly as the dog who careered with loud and 
sounding bark before him. 

He came upon the spot. There were half- 
dressed figures tearing to and fro, some en- 
deavouring to drag the frightened horses from 



212 OLIVER TWIST. 

the stables, others driving the cattle from the 
yard and out-houses, and others coining laden 
from the burning pile amidst a shower of falling 
sparks, and the tumbling down of red-hot 
beams. The apertures, where doors and win- 
dows stood an hour ago, disclosed a mass of 
raging fire ; walls rocked and crumbled into 
the burning well; the molten lead and iron 
poured down, white hot, upon the ground. 
Women and children shrieked, and men en- 
couraged each other with noisy shouts and 
cheers. The clanking of the engine-pumps 
and the spirting and hissing of the water as 
it fell upon the blazing wood added to the 
tremendous roar. He shouted, too, till he 
was hoarse ; and flying from memory and 
himself plunged into the thickest of the 
throng. 

Hither and thither he dived that night — 
now working at the pumps, and now hurrying 
through the smoke and flame, but never ceasing 
to engage himself wherever noise and men were 
thickest. Up and down the ladders, upon the 
roofs of buildings, over floors that quaked and 




— z^fe^*^ 






, 



J-*k 



OLIVER TWIST. 213 

trembled with his weight, under the lee of 
falling bricks and stones, — in every part of that 
great fire was he, but he bore a charmed life, 
and had neither scratch nor bruise, nor weari- 
ness nor thought, till morning dawned again 
and only smoke and blackened ruins re- 
mained. 

This mad excitement over, there returned 
with tenfold force the dreadful consciousness of 
his crime. He looked suspiciously about him, 
for the men were conversing in groups, and he 
feared to be the subject of their talk. The dog 
obeyed the significant beck of his finger, and 
they drew off stealthily together. He passed 
near an engine where some men were seated, and 
they called to him to share in their refresh- 
ment. He took some bread and meat ; and as 
he drank a draught of beer, heard the firemen, 
who were from London, talking about the 
murder. " He has gone to Birmingham, they 
say,"' 1 said one : " but they '11 have him yet, 
for the scouts are out, and by to-morrow 
night there '11 be a cry all through the 
country." 



214 OLIVER TWIST. 

He hurried off and walked till he almost 
dropped upon the ground ; then lay down in a 
lane, and had a long, but broken and uneasy, 
sleep. He wandered on again, irresolute and 
undecided, and oppressed with the fear of an- 
other solitary night. 

Suddenly he took the desperate resolution of 
going back to London. 

" There 's somebody to speak to there, at all 
events,"" he thought. " A good hiding-place, 
too. They '11 never expect to nab me there 
after this country scent. Why can't I lay 
by for a week or so, and forcing blunt 
from Fagin get abroad to France ! Damme, 
I '11 risk it." 

He acted upon this impulse without delay, 
and choosing the least frequented roads began 
his journey back, resolved to lie concealed with- 
in a short distance of the metropolis, and, enter- 
ing it at dusk by a circuitous route, to proceed 
straight to that part of it which he had fixed on 
for his destination. 

The dog, though, — if any descriptions of him 
were out, it would not be forgotten that the 



OLIVER TWIST. 215 

dog was missing and had probably gone with 
him. This might lead to his apprehension as 
he passed along the streets. He resolved to 
drown him, and walked on looking about for a 
pond ; picking up a heavy stone and tying it to 
his handkerchief as he went. 

The animal looked up into his master's face 
while these preparations were making — and, 
whether his instinct apprehended something 
of their purpose, or the robber's sidelong look 
at him was sterner than ordinary — skulked 
a little further in the rear than usual, 
and cowered as he came more slowly along. 
When his master halted at the brink of a pool 
and looked round to call him, he stopped out- 
right. 

" Do you hear me call * come here P 1 " cried 
Sikes whistling. 

The animal came up from the very force of 
habit ; but as Sikes stooped to attach the hand- 
kerchief to his throat, he uttered a low growl 
and started back. 

c< Come back," said the robber, stamping on 
the ground. The dog wagged his tail, but 



216 OLIVER TWIST. 

moved not. Here Sikes made a running noose 
and called him again. 

The dog advanced, retreated, paused an in- 
stant, turned and scoured away at his hardest 
speed. 

The man whistled again and again, and sat 
down and waited in the expectation that he 
would return. But no dog appeared, and he 
resumed his journey. 



OLIVER TWIST. 217 



CHAPTER XLVIL 

MONKS AND MR. BROWNLOW AT LENGTH MEET. THEIR 
CONVERSATION, AND THE INTELLIGENCE THAT INTER- 
RUPTS IT. 

The twilight was beginning to close in, when 
Mr. Brownlow alighted from a hackney-coach 
at his own door, and knocked softly. The 
door being opened, a sturdy man got out of the 
coach and stationed himself on one side of the 
steps, while another man who had been seated 
on the box dismounted too, and stood upon 
the other side. At a sign from Mr. Brownlow, 
they helped out a third man, and taking him 
between them, hurried him into the house. 
This man was Monks. 

They walked in the same manner up the 
stairs without speaking, and Mr. Brownlow, 
preceding them, led the way into a back-room. 



218 OLIVER TWIST. 

At the door of this apartment, Monks, who 
had ascended with evident reluctance, stopped. 
The two men looked to the old gentleman as if 
for instructions. 

" He knows the alternative, 1 "' said Mr. 
Brownlow. " If he hesitates or moves a finger 
but as you bid him, drag him into the street, 
call for the aid of the police, and impeach him 
as a felon in my name. 11 

" How dare you say this of me P 11 asked 
Monks. 

u How dare you urge me to it, young man ?" 
replied Mr. Brownlow, confronting him with a 
steady look. " Are you mad enough to leave 
this house ? Unhand him. There, sir. You 
are free to go, and we to follow. But I warn 
you, by all I hold most solemn and most sacred, 
that the instant you set foot in the street, that 
instant will I have you apprehended on a 
charge of fraud and robbery. I am resolute 
and immoveable. If you are determined to be 
the same, your blood be upon your own head ! " 

" By what authority am I kidnapped in the 
street and brought here by these dogs ?" asked 



OLIVER TWIST. 219 

Monks, looking from one to the other of the 
men who stood beside him. 

" By mine," replied Mr. Brownlow. " Those 
persons are indemnified by me. If you com- 
plain of being deprived of your liberty — you 
had power and opportunity to retrieve it as you 
came along, but you deemed it advisable to 
remain quiet — I say again, throw yourself for 
protection upon the law. I will appeal to the 
law too ; but when you have gone too far to 
recede, do not sue to me for leniency when the 
power will have passed into other hands, and 
do not say I plunged you down the gulf into 
which you rushed yourself. 1 ' 

Monks was plainly disconcerted, and alarmed 
besides. He hesitated. 

" You will decide quickly,' 1 said Mr. Brown- 
low, with perfect firmness and composure. " If 
you wish me to prefer my charges publicly, 
and consign you to a punishment the extent of 
which, although I can, with a shudder, foresee, 
I cannot control, once more, I say, you know 
the way. If not, and you appeal to my for- 
bearance, and the mercy of those you have 



220 OLIVER TWIST. 

deeply injured, seat yourself without a word in 
that chair. It has waited for you two whole 
days." 

Monks muttered some unintelligible words, 
but wavered still. 

" You will be prompt," said Mr. Brownlow. 
" A word from me, and the alternative has gone 
for ever." 

Still the man hesitated. 

" I have not the inclination to parley further, 1 ' 
said Mr. Brownlow, " and, as I advocate the 
dearest interests of others, I have not the right." 

" Is there — " demanded Monks with a faltering 
tongue, — " is there — no middle course P 11 

" None ; emphatically none." 

Monks looked at the old gentleman with an 
anxious eye, but reading in his countenance 
nothing but severity and determination walked 
into the room, and, shrugging his shoulders, sat 
down. 

c< Lock the door on the outside, 11 said Mr. 
Brownlow to the attendants, " and come when 
I ring. 1 ' 



OLIVER TWIST. 221 

The men obeyed, and the two were left alone 
together. 

" This is pretty treatment, sir," said Monks, 
throwing down his hat and cloak, " from my 
father's oldest friend. 1 ' 

"It is because I was your father's oldest 
friend, young man," returned Mr. Brownlow. 
"It is because the hopes and wishes of young 
and happy years were bound up with him, and 
that fair creature of his blood and kindred who 
rejoined her God in youth and left me here a 
solitary, lonely man, — it is because he knelt with 
me beside his only sister's death-bed when he 
was yet a boy, on the morning that would — but 
Heaven willed otherwise — have made her my young 
wife, — it is because my seared heart clung to him 
from that time forth through all his trials and 
errors, till he died, — it is because old recollec- 
tions and associations fill my heart, and even the 
sight of you brings with it old thoughts of him, — 
it is all these things that move me to treat you 
gently now — yes, Edward Leeford, even now — 
and blush for your un worthiness who bear the 
name." 

VOL. III. M 



222 OLIVER TWIST. 

" What has the name to do with it ?" asked 
the other, after contemplating, half in silence, 
and half in dogged wonder, the agitation of his 
conrpanion. " What is the name to me ?" 

" Nothing," replied Mr. Brownlow, " nothing 
to you. But it was hers, and even at this distance 
of time brings back to me, an old man, the glow 
and thrill which I once felt only to hear it re- 
peated by a stranger. I am very glad you have 
changed it — very — very." 

" This is all mighty fine," said Monks (to 
retain his assumed designation) after a long 
silence, during which he had jerked himself in 
sullen defiance to and fro, and Mr. Brownlow 
had sat shading his face with his hand. " But 
what do you want with me ?" 

" You have a brother," said Mr. Brown- 
low rousing himself — " a brother, the whisper 
of whose name in your ear, when I came behind 
you in the street, was in itself almost enough to 
make you accompany me hither in wonder and 
alarm." 

" I have no brother," replied Monks. " You 
know I was an only child. Why do you talk to 



OLIVER TWIST. 223 

me of brothers ? You know that, as well 
as I." 

" Attend to what I do know and you may 
not," said Mr. Brownlow. " I shall interest 
you by and by. I know that of the wretched 
marriage, into which family pride and the most 
sordid and narrowest of all ambition forced your 
unhappy father when a mere boy, you were the 
sole and most unnatural issue," returned Mr. 
Brownlow. 

" I don't care for hard names," interrupted 
Monks with a jeering laugh. " You know the 
fact, and that 's enough for me/ 1 

" But I also know," pursued the old gentle- 
man, " the misery, the slow torture, the pro- 
tracted anguish of that ill-assorted union ; I 
know how listlessly and wearily each of that 
wretched pair dragged on their heavy chain 
through a world that was poisoned to them both ; 
I know how cold formalities were succeeded by 
open taunts ; how indifference gave place to 
dislike, dislike to hate, and hate to loathing, 
until at last they wrenched the clanking bond 
asunder, and retiring a wide space apart, carried 

m2 



224 OLIVER TWIST. 

each a galling fragment, of which nothing but 
death could break the rivets, to hide it in new 
society beneath the gayest looks they could 
assume. Your mother succeeded : she forgot 
it soon — but it rusted and cankered at your 
father's heart for years/' 

" Well, they were separated, " said Monks, 
" and what of that ?" 

cc When they had been separated for some 
time," returned Mr. Brownlow, "and your mo- 
ther, wholly given up to continental frivolities, 
had utterly forgotten the young husband ten 
good years her junior, who with prospects blight- 
ed lingered on at home, he fell among new 
friends. This circumstance, at least, you know 
already.'' 1 

" Not I," said Monks, turning away his eyes 
and beating his foot upon the ground, as a 
man who is determined to deny everything. 
« Not I." 

" Your manner, no less than your actions, 
assures me that you have never forgotten it, or 
ceased to think of it with bitterness,' 1 returned 
Mr. Brownlow. " I speak of fifteen years ago, 



OLIVER TWIST. 225 

when you were not more than eleven years old, 
and your father but one-and-thirty — for he was, 
I repeat, a boy, when his father ordered him to 
marry. Must I go back to events that cast a 
shade upon the memory of your parent, or will 
you spare it and disclose to me the truth ?" 

" I have nothing to disclose," rejoined Monks 
in evident confusion. " You must talk on if 
you will." 

" These new friends, then," said Mr. Brownlow, 
" were a naval officer retired from active service, 
whose wife had died some half-a-year before, and 
left him with two children — there had been 
more, but of all their family happily but two 
survived. They were both daughters ; one a 
beautiful creature of nineteen, and the other a 
mere child of two or three years old." 

" What's this to me ?" asked Monks. 

" They resided," said Mr. Brownlow, without 
seeming to hear the interruption, " in a part of the 
country to which your father in his wandering 
had repaired, and where he had taken up his 
abode. Acquaintance, intimacy, friendship, fast 
followed on each other. Your father was gifted 



226 OLIVER TWIST. 

as few men are — lie had his sister's soul and 
person. As the old officer knew him more and 
more, he grew to love him. I would that it 
had ended there. His daughter did the same." 

The old gentleman paused; Monks was bit- 
ing his lips, with his eyes fixed upon the floor ; 
seeing this, he immediately resumed. 

" The end of a year found him contracted, 
solemnly contracted to that daughter ; the object 
of the first, true, ardent, only passion of a guile- 
less, untried girl." 

" Your tale is of the longest," observed Monks 
moving restlessly in his chair. 

" It is a true tale of grief, and trial, and sor- 
row, young man," returned Mr. Brownlow, " and 
such tales usually are ; if it were one of un- 
mixed joy and happiness, it would be very brief. 
At length one of those rich relations to strengthen 
whose interest and importance your father had 
been sacrificed, as others are often — it is no 
uncommon case — died, and to repair the misery 
he had been instrumental in occasioning, left him 
his panacea for all griefs — Money. It was ne- 
cessary that he should immediately repair to 



OLIVER TWIST. 221 

Rome, whither this man had sped for health, 
and where he had died, leaving his affairs in 
great confusion. He went, was seized with 
mortal illness there, was followed the moment 
the intelligence reached Paris by your mother 
who carried you with her ; he died the day after 
her arrival, leaving no will — no will — so that 
the whole property fell to her and you." 

At this part of the recital Monks held 
his breath, and listened with a face of intense 
eagerness, though his eyes were not directed 
towards the speaker. As Mr. Brownlow paused, 
he changed his position with the air of one who 
has experienced a sudden relief, and wiped his 
hot face and hands. 

" Before he went abroad, and as he passed 
through London on his way," said Mr. Brown- 
low slowly, and fixing his eyes upon the other's 
face — " he came to me." 

(i I never heard of that," interrupted Monks 
in a tone intended to appear incredulous, but 
savouring more of disagreeable surprise. 

u He came to me, and left with me, among 
some other things, a picture — a portrait painted by 



228 OLIVER TWIST. 

himself — a likeness of this poor girl — which he 
did not wish to leave behind, and could not carry 
forward on his hasty journey. He was worn by 
anxiety and remorse almost to a shadow ; talked 
in a wild, distracted way of ruin and dishonour 
worked by him ; confided to me his intention to 
convert his whole property at any loss into 
money, and, having settled on his wife and you 
a portion of his recent acquisition, to fly the 
country — I guessed too well he would not fly 
alone — and never see it more. Even from me, 
his old and early friend, whose strong attachment 
had taken root in the earth that covered one 
most dear to both — even from me he withheld 
any more particular confession, promising to 
write and tell me all, and after that to see me 
once again for the last time on earth. Alas ! 
That was the last time. I had no letter, and I 
never saw him more. 

" I went, 1 ' said Mr. Brownlow, after a short 
pause, " I went when all was over to the scene 
of his — I will use the term the world would use, 
for harshness or favour are now alike to him — 
of his guilty love ; resolved that if my fears 



OLIVER TWIST. 229 

were realized that erring child should find one 
heart and home open to shelter and compassion- 
ate her. The family had left that part a week 
before ; they had called in such trifling debts 
as were outstanding, discharged them, and left 
the place by night. Why or whither none 
could tell." 

Monks drew his breath yet more freely, and 
looked round with a smile of triumph. 

" When your brother/' said Mr. Brownlow, 
drawing nearer to the other's chair — " When your 
brother, — a feeble, ragged, neglected child, — 
was cast in my way by a stronger hand than 
chance, and rescued by me from a life of vice 
and infamy'" — 

" What W cried Monks, starting. 

" By me," said Mr. Brownlow. " I told 
you I should interest you before long. I say by 
me — I see that your cunning associate suppress- 
ed my name, although, for aught he knew, it 
would be quite strange to your ears. When he 
was rescued by me, then, and lay recovering 
from sickness in my house, his strong resem- 
blance to this picture I have spoken of struck 

m 5 



230 OLIVER TWIST. 

me with astonishment. Even when I first saw 
him, in all his dirt and misery, there was a lin- 
gering expression in his face that came upon me 
like a glimpse of some old friend flashing on 
one in a vivid dream. I need not tell you he 
was snared away before I knew his history — " 

" Why not ?" asked Monks hastily. 

" Because you know it well." 

" I !" 

" Denial to me is vain, 1 ' replied Mr. Brown- 
low. " I shall show you that I know more than 
that." 

" You — you — can't prove anything against 
me," stammered Monks. " I defy you to do 
it!" 

" We shall see," returned the old gentleman 
with a searching glance. " I lost the boy, and 
no efforts of mine could recover him. Your 
mother being dead, I knew that you alone could 
solve the mystery if anybody could, and as when 
I had last heard of you you were on your own 
estate in the West Indies — whither, as you well 
know, you retired upon your mother's death 
to escape the consequences of vicious courses 



OLIVER TWIST. 231 

here — I made the voyage. You had left it 
months before, and were supposed to be in Lon- 
don, but no one could tell where. I returned. 
Your agents had no clue to your residence. 
You came and went, they said, as strangely 
as you had ever done, sometimes for days to- 
gether and sometimes not for months, keeping 
to all appearance the same low haunts and ming- 
ling with the same infamous herd who had been 
your associates when a fierce ungovernable boy. 
I wearied them with new applications. I paced 
the streets by night and day, but until two 
hours ago all my efforts were fruitless, and I 
never saw you for an instant." 

" And now you do see me, 1 ' said Monks, 
rising boldly, " what then ? Fraud and robbery 
are high-sounding words — justified, you think, 
by a fancied resemblance in some young imp 
to an idle daub of a dead man's Brother ! You 
don't even know that a child was born of this 
maudlin pair ; you don't even know that." 

" 1 did not" replied Mr. Brownlow, rising 
too ; " but within the last fortnight I have 
learnt it all. You have a brother ; you know 



232 OLIVER TWIST. 

it, and him. There was a will, which your 
mother destroyed, leaving the secret and the 
gain to you at her own death. It contained 
a reference to some child likely to be the re- 
sult of this sad connection, which child was 
born, and accidentally encountered by you, when 
your suspicions were first awakened by his resem- 
blance to his father. You repaired to the place 
of his birth. There existed proofs — proofs long 
suppressed — of his birth and parentage. Those 
proofs were destroyed by you, and now, in your 
own words to your accomplice the Jew, ( the only 
proofs of the boys identity lie at the bottom 
of the river, and the old hag that received them 
from the mother is rotting in her coffin.'' Un- 
worthy son, coward, liar, — you, who hold your 
councils with thieves and murderers in dark 
rooms at night, — you, whose plots and wiles 
have hurled a violent death upon the head of 
one worth millions such as you, — you, who from 
your cradle were gall and bitterness to your own 
father's heart, and in whom all evil passions, 
vice, and profligacy, festered till they found a 
vent in a hideous disease which has made your 



OLIVER TWIST. 233 

face an index even to your mind — you, Ed- 
ward Leeford, do you brave me still !" 

" No, no, no !" returned the coward, over- 
whelmed by these accumulated, charges. 

u Every word !" cried the old gentleman, 
" every word that has passed between you and 
this detested villain, is known to me. Shadows 
on the wall have caught your whispers, and 
brought them to my ear ; the sight of the per- 
secuted child has turned vice itself and given it 
the courage and almost the attributes of virtue. 
Murder has been done, to which you were mo- 
rally if not really a party." 

" No, no," interposed Monks. '«• 1 — I — 
know nothing of that ; I was going to inquire 
the truth of the story when you overtook me. 
I didn't know the cause, I thought it was a 
common quarrel." 

" It was the partial disclosure of your secrets," 
replied Mr. Brownlow. " Will you disclose 
the whole ?" 

« Yes, I will." 

" Set your hand to a statement of truth and 
facts, and repeat it before witnesses ?" 



%?A OLIVER TWIST. 

" That I promise too." 

" Remain quietly here until such a document 
is drawn up, and proceed with me to such a place 
as I may deem most advisable, for the purpose 
of attesting it ?" 

" If you insist upon that, I 11 do that also," 
replied Monks. 

" You must do more than that," said Mr. 
Brownlow. " Make restitution to an innocent 
and unoffending child, for such he is, although 
the offspring of a guilty and most miserable love. 
You have not forgotten the provisions of the will. 
Carry them into execution so far as your brother 
is concerned, and then go where you please. In 
this world you need meet no more." 

While Monks was pacing up and down, medi- 
tating with dark and evil looks on this proposal 
and the possibilities of evading it — torn by his 
fears on the one hand and his hatred on the other 
— the door was hurriedly unlocked, and a gentle- 
man, Mr. Losberne, entered the room in violent 
agitation. 

" The man will be taken," he cried. " He 
will be taken to-night ! " 



OLIVER TWIST. 235 

" The murderer? 1 ' asked Mr. Brownlow. 

" Yes, yes," replied the other. " His dog 
has been seen lurking about some old haunt, and 
there seems little doubt that his master either is, 
or will be, there under cover of the darkness. 
Spies are hovering about in every direction ; I 
have spoken to the men who are charged with his 
capture, and they tell me he can never escape. A 
reward of a hundred pounds is proclaimed by 
Government to-night." 

" I will give fifty more," said Mr. Brownlow, 
" and proclaim it with my own lips upon the spot 
if I can reach it. Where is Mr. Maylie ?" 

" Harry — as soon as he had seen your friend 
here safe in a coach with you, he hurried off to 
where he heard this," replied the doctor, " and 
mounting his horse sallied forth to join the first 
party at some place in the outskirts agreed upon 
between them." 

" The Jew" — said Mr. Brownlow ; " what of 
him ?" 

" When I last heard he had not been taken, 
but he will be, oris, by this time. They're sure 
of him." 



236 OLIVER TWIST, 

" Have you made up your mind ?" asked Mr. 
Brownlow, in a low voice, of Monks. 

" Yes," he replied. " You — you — will be 
secret with me ?" 

" I will. Remain here til] I return. It is 
your only hope of safety." 

They left the room, and the door was again 
locked. 

Ci What have you done ?" asked the doctor in 
a whisper. 

" All that I could hope to do, and even more. 
Coupling the poor girl's intelligence with my pre- 
vious knowledge, and the result of our good friend's 
inquiries on the spot, I left him no loophole of 
escape, and laid bare the whole villany which by 
these lights became plain as day. Write and ap- 
point the evening after to-morrow at seven, for 
the meeting. We shall be down there a few 
hours before, but shall require rest, and especially 
the young lady, who may have greater need of 
firmness than either you or I can quite foresee 
just now. But my blood boils to avenge this 
poor murdered creature. Which way have they 
taken ?" 



OLIVER TWIST. 237 

" Drive straight to the office and you will be 
in time," replied Mr. Losberne. " I will remain 
here." 

The two gentlemen hastily separated ; each in 
a fever of excitement wholly uncontrollable. 



238 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XLVIII. 



THE PURSUIT AND ESCAPE. 



Near to that part of the Thames on which 
the church at Rotherhithe abuts, where the 
buildings on the banks are dirtiest and the 
vessels on the river blackest with the dust of 
colliers and the smoke of close-built low-roofed 
houses, there exists, at the present day, the fil- 
thiest, the strangest, the most extraordinary of 
the many localities that are hidden in London, 
wholly unknown, even by name, to the great 
mass of its inhabitants. 

To reach this place, the visitor has to pene- 
trate through a maze of close, narrow, and muddy 
streets, thronged by the roughest and poorest of 
water-side people, and devoted to the traffic they 
may be supposed to occasion. The cheapest 
and least delicate provisions are heaped in the 



OLIVER TWIST. 239 

shops, the coarsest and commonest articles of 
wearing apparel dangle at the salesman's door, 
and stream from the house-parapet and windows. 
Jostling with unemployed labourers of the lowest 
class, ballast-heavers, coal-whippers, brazen wo- 
men, ragged children, and the very raff and 
refuse of the river, he makes his way with dif- 
ficulty along, assailed by offensive sights and 
smells from the narrow alleys which branch off 
on the right and left, and deafened by the clash 
of ponderous waggons that bear great piles of 
merchandise from the stacks of warehouses that 
rise from every corner. Arriving at length in 
streets remoter and less-frequented than those 
through which he has passed, he walks beneath 
tottering house-fronts projecting over the pave- 
ment, dismantled walls that seem to totter as 
he passes, chimneys half crushed half hesitating 
to fall, windows guarded by rusty iron bars 
that time and dirt have almost eaten away, and 
every imaginable sign of desolation and neglect. 

In such a neighbourhood, beyond Dockhead 
in the Borough of Southwark, stands Jacob's 
Island, surrounded by a muddy ditch, six or 



240 OLIVER TWIST. 

eight feet deep and fifteen or twenty wide when 
the tide is in, once called Mill Pond, but 
known in these days as Folly Ditch. It is a 
creek or inlet from the Thames, and can always 
be filled at high water by opening the sluices 
at the Lead Mills from which it took its old 
name. At such times, a stranger, looking from 
one of the wooden bridges thrown across it at 
Mill-lane, will see the inhabitants of the houses 
on either side lowering from their back doors 
and windows, buckets, pails, domestic utensils 
of all kinds, in which to haul the water up ; and 
when his eye is turned from these operations to 
the houses themselves, his utmost astonishment 
will be excited by the scene before him. Crazy 
wooden galleries common to the backs of half 
a-dozen houses, with holes from which to look 
upon the slime beneath ; windows broken and 
patched, with poles thrust out on which to dry 
the linen that is never there ; rooms so small, 
so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem 
too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which 
they shelter ; wooden chambers thrusting them- 
selves out above the mud, and threatening to 



OLIVER TWIST. 241 

fall into it — as some have done ; dirt-besmeared 
walls and decaying foundations ; every repulsive 
lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication 
of filth, rot, and garbage ; — all these ornament 
the banks of Folly Ditch. 

In Jacob's Island the warehouses are roofless 
and empty ; the walls are crumbling down ; the 
windows are windows no more ; the doors are 
falling into the street; the chimneys are black- 
ened, but they yield no smoke. Thirty or 
forty years ago, before losses and chancery suits 
came upon it, it was a thriving place ; but now 
it is a desolate island indeed. The houses have 
no owners ; they are broken open, and entered 
upon by those who have the courage, and there 
they live and there they die. They must have 
powerful motives for a secret residence, or be 
reduced to a destitute condition indeed, who seek 
a refuge in Jacob's Island. 

In an upper room of one of these houses — 
a detached house of fair size, ruinous in other 
respects, but strongly defended at door and win- 
dow, of which the back commanded the ditch in 
manner already described, — there were assembled 



242 OLIVER TWIST. 

three men, who, regarding each other every now 
and then with looks expressive of perplexity and 
expectation, sat for some time in profound and 
gloomy silence. One of these was Toby Crackit, 
another Mr. Chitling, and the third a robber of 
fifty years, whose nose had been almost beaten in, 
in some old scuffle, and whose face bore a fright- 
ful scar which might probably be traced to the 
same occasion. This man was a returned trans- 
port, and his name was Kags. 

" I wish," said Toby turning to Mr. Chitling, 
" that you had picked out some other crib when 
the two old ones got too warm, and not come 
here, my fine feller. " 

"Why didn't you, blunder-head ?" said Kags. 

" Well, I thought you'd have been a little 
more glad to see me than this," replied Mr. Chit- 
ling, with a melancholy air. 

" Why look'e, young gentleman, 11 said Toby, 
" when a man keeps himself so very ex-clusive as 
I have done, and by that means has a snug house 
over his head with nobody prying and smelling 
about it, it 's rather a startling thing to have the 
honour of a wisit from a young gentleman (how- 



OLIVER TWIST. 243 

ever respectable and pleasant a person he may be 
to play cards with at conweniency) circumstanced 
as you are." 

" Especially when the exclusive young man 
has got a friend stopping with him that 's arrived 
sooner than was expected from foreign parts, 
and is too modest to want to be presented to 
the Judges on his return, n added Mr. Kags. 

There was a short silence, after which Toby 
Crackit, seeming to abandon as hopeless any 
further effort to maintain his usual devil-may-care 
swagger, turned to Chitling and said — 

" When was Fagin took then ? " 

'* Just at dinner-time — two o'clock this after- 
noon," was the reply. " Charley and I made our 
lucky up the wash'us chimney, and Bolter got 
into the empty water-butt, head downwards, but 
his legs was so precious long that they stuck 
out at the top, and so they took him too." 

" And Bet ? " 

" Poor Bet ! She went to see the body, to 
speak to who it was," replied Chitling, his counte- 
nance falling more and more, " and went off mad, 
screaming and raving, and beating her head 



244 OLIVER TWIST. 

against the boards, so they put a strait weskut 
on her and took her to the hospital — and there 
she is.' 1 

" Wot 's come of young Bates ?" demanded 
Kags. 

" He hung about, not to come over here 
afore dark, but he '11 be here soon," replied Chit- 
ling. " There 's nowhere else to go to now, for 
the people at the Cripples are all in custody, and 
the bar of the ken — I went up there and saw it 
with my own eyes — is filled with traps." 

" This is a smash," observed Toby, biting his 
lips. " There's more than one will go with this." 

" The sessions are on," said Kags : "if they get 
the inquest over ; if Bolter turns King's evidence, 
as of course he will, from what he 's said already ; 
they can prove Fagin an accessory before the 
fact, and get the trial on on Friday ; he '11 swing 
in six days from this, by G — !" 

" You should have heard the people groan," 
said Chitling; "the officers fought like devils 
or they 'd have torn him away. He was down 
once, but they made a ring round him, and 
fought their way along. You should have seen 



OLIVER TWIST. 245 

how he looked about him, all muddy and bleed- 
ing, and clung to them as if they were his dearest 
friends. I can see 'em now, not able to stand up- 
right with the pressing of the mob, and dragging 
him along amongst 'em ; I can see the people 
jumping up, one behind another, and snarling 
with their teeth and making at him like wild 
beasts ; I can see the blood upon his hair and 
beard, and hear the dreadful cries with which the 
women worked themselves into the centre of the 
crowd at the street corner, and swore they 'd tear 
his heart out !" The horror-stricken witness of 
this scene pressed his hands upon his ears, and 
with his eyes fast closed got up and paced 
violently to and fro like one distracted. 

Whilst he was thus engaged, and the two 
men sat by in silence with their eyes fixed upon 
the floor, a pattering noise was heard upon the 
stairs, and Sikes's dog bounded into the room. 
They ran to the window, down stairs, and into 
the street. The dog had jumped in at an open 
window ; he made no attempt to follow them, 
nor was his master to be seen. 

" What 's the meaning of this !" said Toby, 
VOL. III. N 



246 OLIVER TWIST. 

when they had returned. " He can 't be coming 
here. I — I — hope not." 

" If he was coming here, he'd have come 
with the dog," said Kags, stooping down to 
examine the animal, who lay panting on the 
floor. " Here ; give us some water for him ; 
he has run himself faint."" 

" He 's drunk it all up, every drop," said 
Kags, after watching the dog some time in 
silence. " Covered with mud — lame — half- 
blind — he must have come a long way." 

" Where can he have come from !" ex- 
claimed Toby. "He's been to the other 
kens of course, and finding them filled with 
strangers come on here, where he 's been many 
a time and often. But where can he have 
come from first, and how comes he here alone, 
without the other !" 

u He " (none of them called the murderer 
by his old name) " He can \ have made away 
with himself. What do you think ?" said 
Chitling. 

Toby shook his head. 

" If he had," said Kags, " the dog 'ud 



OLIVER TWIST. 247 

want to lead us away to where he did it. No. 
I think he's got out of the country, and left 
the dog behind. He must have given him 
the slip somehow, or he wouldn't be so easy." 

This solution appearing the most probable 
one was adopted as the right, and the dog 
creeping under a chair, coiled himself up to 
sleep, without further notice from anybody. 

It being now dark the shutter was closed, 
and a candle lighted and placed upon the table. 
The terrible events of the two days had made 
a deep impression upon all three, increased by 
the danger and uncertainty of their own position. 
They drew their chairs closer together, starting 
at every sound. They spoke little, and that 
in whispers, and were as silent and awe-stricken 
as if the remains of the murdered woman lay 
in the next room. 

They had sat thus some time, when suddenly 
was heard a hurried knocking at the door below. 

" Young Bates," said Kags, looking angrily 
round to check the fear he felt himself. 

The knocking came again. No, it wasn't 
he. He never knocked like that. 

n 2 



248 OLIVER TWIST. 

Crackit went to the window, and, shaking all 
over, drew in his head. There was no need to 
tell them who it was ; his pale face was enough. 
The dog too was on the alert in an instant, and 
ran whining to the door. 

44 We must let him in," he said, taking up 
the candle. 

44 Isn't there any help for it?" asked the 
other man in a hoarse voice. 

44 None. He must come in." 

44 Don *t leave us in the dark," said Kags, 
taking down a candle from the chimney-piece, 
and lighting it with such a trembling hand that 
the knocking was twice repeated before he had 
finished. 

Crackit went down to the door, and returned 
followed' by a man with the lower part of his 
face buried in a handkerchief, and another tied 
over his head under his hat. He drew them 
slowly off — blanched face, sunken eyes, hollow 
cheeks, beard of three days 1 growth, wasted flesh, 
short thick breath ; it was the very ghost of 
Sikes. 

He laid his hand upon a chair which stood 



OLIVER TWIST. 249 

in the middle of the room, but shuddering as he 
was about to drop into it, and seeming to glance 
over his shoulder, dragged it back close to the 
wall — as close as it would go — ground it 
against it — and sat down. 

Not a word had been exchanged. He looked 
from one to another in silence. If an eye was 
furtively raised and met his, it was instantly 
averted. When his hollow voice broke silence, 
they all three started. They had never heard 
its tones before. 

" How came that dog here ?" he asked. 

" Alone. Three hours ago.'* 

" To-night's paper says that Fagin's taken. 
Is it true, or a lie V* 

" Quite true." 

They were silent again. 

" Damn you all, 11 said Sikes, passing his hand 
across his forehead. " Have you nothing to 
say to me P 11 

There was an uneasy movement among them, 
but nobody spoke. 

" You that keep this house, 11 said Sikes, 
turning his face to Crackit, " do you mean to 



250 OLIVER TWIST. 

sell me, or to let me lie here till tins hunt 
is over ?" 

" You may stop here, if you think it safe," 
returned the person addressed, after some hesi- 
tation. 

Sikes carried his eyes slowly up the wall be- 
hind him, rather trying to turn his head than 
actually doing it, and said, " Is — it — the body 
— is it buried ?" 

They shook their heads. 

" Why isn't it !" said the man with the same 
glance behind him. " Wot do they keep such 
ugly things as that, above the ground for? — 
Wlio's that knocking ?" 

Crackit intimated by a motion of his hand as 
he. left the room that there was nothing to fear, 
and directly came back with Charley Bates behind 
him. Sikes sat opposite the door, so that the 
moment the boy entered the room he encounter- 
ed his figure. 

" Toby," said the boy falling back as Sikes 
turned his eyes towards him. " Why didn't 
you tell me this, down stairs ?" 

There had been something so tremendous in 



OLIVER TWIST. 251 

the shrinking off of the three, that the wretched 
man was willing to propitiate even this lad. Ac- 
cordingly he nodded and made as though he 
would shake hands with him. 

" Let me go into some other room," said the 
boy retreating still further. 

" Why, Charley ?" said Sikes stepping for- 
ward. " Don't you — don't you know me ?" 

" Don't come nearer me," answered the boy, 
still retreating and looking with horror in his 
eyes upon the murderer's face. " You mon- 
ster. 1 ' 

The man stopped half-way, and they looked 
at each other ; but Sikes's eyes sunk gradually to 
the ground. 

" Witness you three," cried the boy, shaking 
his clenched fist, and becoming more and more 
excited as he spoke. " Witness you three — 
Fin not afraid of him — if they come here after 
him, Til give him up ; I will. I tell you out at 
once ; he may kill me for it if he likes or if he 
dares, but if I'm here Fll give him up. I'd 
give him up if he was to be boiled alive. Mur- 
der. Help. If there's the pluck of a man 



&52 OLIVER TWIST. 

among you three, you'll help ine. Murder. 
Help. Down with him.^ 

Pouring out these cries, and accompanying 
them with violent gesticulation, the boy actually 
threw himself single-handed upon the strong 
man, and in the intensity of his energy and the 
suddenness of his surprise brought him heavily 
to the ground. 

The three spectators seemed quite transfixed 
and stupefied. They offered no interference, 
and the boy and man rolled on the ground to- 
gether, the former heedless of the blows that 
showered upon him, wrenching his hands tighter 
and tighter in the garments about the murderer's 
breast, and never ceasing to call for help with 
all his might. 

The contest, however, was too unequal to 
last long. Sikes had him down and his knee 
was on his throat, when Crackit pulled him back 
with a look of alarm and pointed to the window. 
There were lights gleaming below, voices in loud 
and earnest conversation, the tramp of hurried 
footsteps — endless they seemed in number — 
crossing the nearest wooden-bridge. One man 



OLIVER TWIST. 253 

on horseback seemed to be among the crowd, for 
there was the noise of hoofs rattling on the 
uneven pavement ; the gleam of lights increased, 
the footsteps came more thickly and noisily 
on. Then came a loud knocking at the door, 
and then a hoarse murmur from such a multitude 
of angry voices as would have made the boldest 
quail. 

" Help !" shrieked the boy in a voice that 
rent the air. " He's here ; he's here. Break 
down the door." 

" In the King's name," cried voices without ; 
and the hoarse cry arose again, but louder. 

" Break down the door," screamed the boy. 
" I tell you they'll never open it. Run straight 
to the room where the light is. Break down the 
door." 

Strokes thick and heavy rattled upon the door 
and lower window-shutters as he ceased to speak, 
and a loud huzzah burst from the crowd ; — giving 
the listener for the first time some adequate idea 
of its immense extent. 

" Open the door of some place where I can 
lock this screeching Hell-babe," cried Sikes 

n 5 



254 OLIVER TWIST. 

fiercely ; running to and fro, and dragging the 
boy, now, as easily as if lie were an empty sack. 
" That door. Quick." He flung him in, 
bolted it, and turned the key. " Is the down- 
stairs door fast ?" 

" Double-locked and chained," replied Crack - 
it, who, with the other two men, still remained 
quite helpless and bewildered. 

" The panels — are they strong ?" 

u Lined with sheet- iron." 

u And the windows too ?" 

" Yes, and the windows." 

" Damn you !" cried the desperate ruffian, 
throwing up the sash and menacing the crowd. 
" Do your worst ; I 'll cheat you yet !" 

Of all the terrific yells that ever fell on mor- 
tal ears none could exceed the cry of that 
infuriated throng. Some shouted to those who 
were nearest to set the house on fire ; others 
roared to the officers to shoot him dead. Among 
them all, none showed such fury as the man 
on horseback, who, throwing himself out of the 
saddle, and bursting through the crowd as if 
he were parting water, cried beneath the win- 



OLIVER TWIST. ^J<> 

clow, in a voice that rose above all others, 
" Twenty guineas to the man who brings a 
ladder." 

The nearest voices took up the cry, and 
hundreds echoed it. Some called for ladders, 
some for sledge-hammers ; some ran with torches 
to and fro as if to seek them, and still came 
back and roared again ; some spent their breath 
in impotent curses and execrations ; some press- 
ed forward with the ecstasy of madmen, and thus 
impeded the progress of those below ; some 
among the boldest attempted to climb up by 
the water-spout and crevices in the wall ; and 
all waved to and fro in the darkness beneath 
like a field of corn moved by an angry wind, 
and joined from time to time in one loud fu- 
rious roar. 

" The tide, — " cried the murderer, as he stag- 
gered back into the room, and shut the faces 
out, " the tide was in as I came up. Give me 
a rope, a long rope. They 're all in front. I 
may drop into the Folly Ditch, and clear off 
that way. Give me a rope, or I. shall do three 
more murders and kill myself at last." 



256 OLIVER TWIST. 

The panic-stricken men pointed to where such 
articles were kept ; the murderer, hastily select- 
ing the longest and strongest cord, hurried up 
to the house-top. 

All the windows in the rear of the house had 
been long ago bricked up, except one small trap 
in the room where the boy was locked, and that 
was too small even for the passage of his body. 
But from this aperture he had never ceased to 
call on those without to guard the back, and 
thus when the murderer emerged at last on the 
housetop by the door in the roof, a loud shout 
proclaimed the fact to those in front, who im- 
mediately began to pour round, pressing upon 
each other in one unbroken stream. 

He planted a board which he had carried up 
with him for the purpose so firmly against the 
door that it must be matter of great difficulty 
to open it from the inside, and creeping over 
the tiles, looked over the low parapet. 

The - water was out, and the ditch a bed of 
mud. 

The crowd had been hushed during these few 
moments, watching his motions and doubtful of 



OLIVER TWIST. 257 

his purpose, but the instant they perceived it 
and knew it was defeated, they raised a cry of 
triumphant execration to which all their pre- 
vious shouting had been whispers. Again and 
again it rose. Those who were at too great a 
distance to know its meaning, took up the 
sound ; it echoed and re-echoed ; it seemed as 
though the whole city had poured its popula- 
tion out to curse him. 

On pressed the people from the front — on, 
on, on, in one strong struggling current of an- 
gry faces, with here and there a glaring torch 
to light them up and show them out in all their 
wrath and passion. The houses on the oppo- 
site side of the ditch had been entered by the 
mob ; sashes were thrown up, or torn bodily 
out ; there were tiers and tiers of faces in every 
window and cluster upon cluster of people 
clinging to every house-top. Each little bridge 
(and there were three in sight) bent beneath 
the weight of the crowd upon it ; and still the 
current poured on to find some nook or hole 
from which to vent their shouts, and only for 
an instant see the wretch. 



258 OLIVER TWIST. 

" They have him now," cried a man on the 
nearest bridge. " Hurrah I" 

The crowd grew light with uncovered heads, 
and again the shout uprose. 

" I promise fifty pounds," cried an old gentle- 
man from the same quarter, " fifty pounds to 
the man who takes him alive. I will remain 
here till he comes to ask me for it." 

There was another roar. At this moment 
the word was passed among the crowd that the 
door was forced at last, and that he who had 
first called for the ladder had mounted into the 
room. The stream abruptly turned as this in- 
telligence ran from mouth to mouth, and the 
people at the windows, seeing those upon the 
bridges pouring back, quitted their stations and 
running into the street joined the concourse 
that now thronged pell-mell to the spot they had 
left, each man crushing and striving with his 
neighbour, and all panting with impatience to 
get near the door and look upon the criminal 
as the officers brought him out. The cries and 
shrieks of those who were pressed almost to suf- 
focation or trampled down and trodden under 



OLIVER TWIST. 259 

foot in the confusion were dreadful ; the narrow 
ways were completely blocked up ; and at this 
time, between the rush of some to regain the 
space in front of the house and the unavailing 
struggles of others to extricate themselves from 
the mass, the immediate attention was distracted 
from the murderer, although the universal eager- 
ness for his capture was, if possible, increased. 

The man had shrunk down, thoroughly quel- 
led by the ferocity of the crowd and the im- 
possibility of escape, but seeing this sudden 
change with no less rapidity than it occurred, he 
sprung upon his feet, determined to make one 
last effort for his life by dropping into the ditch, 
and, at the risk of being stifled, endeavouring 
to creep away in the darkness and confusion. 

Roused into new strength and energy, and 
stimulated by the noise within the house which 
announced that an entrance had really been ef- 
ected, he set his foot against the stack of chim- 
neys, fastened one end of the rope tightly and 
firmly round it, and with the other 'made a 
strong running noose by the aid of his hands 
and teeth almost in a second. He could let 



OLIVER TWIST. 

himself down by the cord to within a less distance 
of the ground than his own height, and had his 
knife ready in his hand to cut it then and drop. 

At the very instant that he brought the 
loop over his head previous to slipping it be- 
neath his arm-pits, and when the old gentle- 
man before-mentioned (who had clung so tight 
to the railing of the bridge as to resist the 
force of the crowd, and retain his position) ear- 
nestly warned those about him that the man was 
about to lower himself down — at that very in- 
stant the murderer, looking behind him on the 
roof, threw his arms above his head, and uttered 
a yell of terror. 

" The eyes again !" he cried in an unearthly 
screech. Staggering as if struck by lightning, 
he lost his balance and tumbled over the para- 
pet ; the noose was at his neck ; it ran up with 
his weight tight as a bow-string and swift as 
the arrow it speeds. He fell for five-and-thirty 
feet. There was a sudden jerk, a terrific con- 
vulsion of the limbs, and there he hung, with 
the open knife clenched in his stiffening hand. 

The old chimney quivered with the shock, 



OLIVER TWIST. 261 

but stood it bravely. The murderer swung 
lifeless against the wall, and the boy, thrusting 
aside the dangling body which obscured his 
view, called to the people to come and take 
him out for God's sake. 

A dog, which had lain concealed till now, ran 
backwards and forwards on the parapet with a 
dismal howl, and collecting himself for a spring 
jumped for the dead man's shoulders. Missing 
his aim, he fell into the ditch, turning com- 
pletely over as he went, and striking his head 
against a stone, dashed out his brains. 



262 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XLIX. 

AFFORDING AN EXPLANATION OF MORE MYSTERIES THAN 
ONE, AND COMPREHENDING A PROPOSAL OF MARRIAGE 
WITH NO WORD OF SETTLEMENT OR PIN-MONEY. 

The events narrated in the last chapter were 
yet but two days old, when Oliver found him- 
self, at three o'clock in the afternoon, in a travel- 
ing-carriage rolling fast towards his native town. 
Mrs. Maylie and Rose and Mrs. Bedwin and 
the good doctor were with him ; and Mr. 
Brownlow followed in a post-chaise, accompanied 
by one other person whose name had not been 
mentioned. 

They had not talked much upon the way, for 
Oliver was in a flutter of agitation and uncer- 
tainty which deprived him of the power of col- 
lecting his thoughts, and almost of speech, and 
appeared to have scarcely less effect on his com- 



OLIVER TWIST. 263 

panions who shared it in at least an equal 
degree. He and the two ladies had been very 
carefully made acquainted by Mr. Brownlow with 
the nature of the admissions which had been 
forced from Monks, and although they knew that 
the object of their present journey was to com- 
plete the work which had been so well begun, 
still the whole matter was enveloped in enough 
of doubt and mystery to leave them in endurance 
of the most intense suspense. 

The same kind friend had, with Mr. Los- 
berne^ assistance, cautiously stopped all chan- 
nels of communication through which they could 
receive intelligence of the dreadful occurrences 
that had so recently taken place. "It was 
quite true/' he said, " that they must know 
them before long, but it might be at a better 
time than the present, and it could not be 
at a worse." So they travelled on in silence, 
each busied with reflections on the object which 
had brought them together, and no one disposed 
to give utterance to the thoughts which crowded 
upon all. 

But if Oliver, under these influences, had 



264 OLIVER TWIST. 

remained silent while they journeyed towards his 
birth-place by a road he had never seen, how the 
whole current of his recollections ran back to old 
times, and what a crowd of emotions were wak- 
ened up in his breast, when they turned into that 
which he had traversed on foot a poor houseless 
wandering boy, without a friend to help him or 
a roof to shelter his head ! 

" See there, there — " cried Oliver, eagerly 
clasping the hand of Rose, and pointing out at 
the carriage window, — " that 's the stile I came 
over, there are the hedges I crept behind for fear 
any one should overtake me and force me back, 
yonder is the path across the fields leading to the 
old house where I was a little child. Oh Dick, 
Dick, my dear old friend, if I could only see 
you now !" 

" You will see him soon," replied Rose, gen- 
tly taking his folded hands between her own. 
" You shall tell him how happy you are, and how 
rich you have grown, and that in all your hap- 
piness you have none so great as the coming 
back to make him happy too." 

" Yes, yes," said Oliver, " and we'll — we'll take 



OLIVER TWIST. 265 

him away from here, and have him clothed and 
taught, and send him to some quiet country 
place where he may grow strong and well, — shall 
we ?" 

Rose nodded " yes," for the boy was smiling 
through such happy tears that she could not 
speak. 

" You will be kind and good to him, for you 
are to every one," said Oliver. " It will make you 
cry, I know, to hear what he can tell ; but never 
mind, never mind, it will be all over, and you will 
smile again, I know that too — to think how 
changed he is ; you did the same with me. He 
said ' God bless you ' to me when I ran away," 
cried the boy with a burst of affectionate emo- 
tion ; " and I will say f God bless you ' now, 
and show him how I love him for it !" 

As they approached the town and at length 
drove through its narrow streets, it became mat- 
ter of no small difficulty to restrain the boy with- 
in reasonable bounds. There was Sowerberry's 
the undertaker's, just as it used to be, only 
smaller and less imposing in appearance than 
he remembered it — all the well-known shops and 



266 OLIVER TWIST, 

houses, with almost every one of which he had 
some slight incident connected — Gamfield's cart, 
the very cart he used to have, standing at the old 
public-house door — the workhouse, the dreary 
prison of his youthful days, with its dismal win- 
dows frowning on the street — the same lean 
porter standing at the gate, at sight of whom 
Oliver involuntarily shrunk back, and then laugh- 
ed at himself for being so foolish, then cried, 
then laughed again — scores of faces at the doors 
and windows that he knew quite well — nearly 
everything as if he had left it but yesterday and 
all his recent life had been but a happy dream. 

But it was pure, earnest, joyful reality. They 
drove straight to the door of the chief hotel 
(which Oliver used to stare up at with awe, and 
think a mighty palace, but which had somehow 
fallen off in grandeur and size) ; and here was 
Mr. Grim wig all ready to receive them, kissing 
the young lady, and the old one too, when they 
got out of the coach, as if he were the grandfather 
of the whole party, all smiles and kindness, and 
not offering to eat his head — no, not once; not 
even when he contradicted a very old postboy 



OLIVER TWIST. 267 

about the nearest road to London, and maintained 
lie knew it best, though he had only come that 
way once, and that time fast asleep. There was 
dinner prepared, and there were bed-rooms ready, 
and everything was arranged as if by magic. 

Notwithstanding all this, when the hurry of 
the first half hour was over, the same silence and 
constraint prevailed that had marked their jour- 
ney down. Mr. Brownlow did not join them at 
dinner, but remained in a separate room. The 
two other gentlemen hurried in and out with 
anxious faces, and, during the short intervals that 
they were present, conversed apart. Once Mrs. 
Maylie was called away, and after being absent 
for nearly an hour, returned with eyes swollen 
with weeping. All these things made Rose and 
Oliver, who were not in any new secrets, nervous 
and uncomfortable. They sat wondering in si- 
lence, or, if they exchanged a few words, spoke 
in whispers, as if they were afraid to hear the 
sound of their own voices. 

At length, when nine o'clock had come and 
they began to think they were to hear no more 
that night, Mr. Losberne and Mr. Grim wig en- 



268 OLIVER TWIST. 

tered the room, followed by Mr. Brownlow and a 
man whom Oliver almost shrieked with surprise 
to see ; for they told him it was his brother, and 
it was the same man he had met at the market 
town and seen looking in with Fagin at the win- 
dow of his little room. He cast a look of hate, 
which even then he could not dissemble, at the 
astonished boy, and sat down near the door. Mr. 
Brownlow, who had papers in his hand, walked 
to a table near which Rose and Oliver were 
seated. 

cl This is a painful task," said he, " but these 
declarations, which have been signed in London 
before many gentlemen, must be in substance re- 
peated here. I would have spared you the de- 
gradation, but we must hear them from your own 
lips before we part, and you know why." 

" Go on," said the person addressed, turning 
away his face. " Quick. I have done enough. 
Don't keep me here." 

" This child," said Mr. Brownlow, drawing 
Oliver to him, and laying his hand upon his head, 
M is your half-brother ; the illegitimate son of your 
father and my dear friend Edwin Leeford, by 



OLIVER TWIST. 269 

poor young Agnes Fleming, who died in giving 
him birth." 

" Yes," said Monks, scowling at the trembling 
boy, the beating of whose heart he might have 
heard. " That is their bastard child." 

" The term you use," said Mr. Brownlow 
sternly, " is a reproach to those who long since 
passed beyond the feeble censure of this world. 
It reflects true disgrace on no one living, except 
you who use it. Let that pass. He was born 
in this town ?" 

" In the workhouse of this town," was the sul- 
len reply. " You have the story there." He 
pointed impatiently to the papers as he spoke. 

" I must have it here too," said Mr. Brown- 
low, looking round upon the listeners. 

" Listen then," returned Monks. " His fa- 
ther being taken ill at Rome, as you know, was 
joined by his wife, my mother, from whom he had 
been long separated, who went from Paris and 
took me with her — to look after his property, for 
what I know, for she had no great affection for 
him, nor he for her. He knew nothing of us, 
for his senses were gone, and he slumbered on till 

vol. in. o 



270 OLIVER TWIST. 

next day, when lie died. Among the papers in 
his desk were two, dated on the night his illness 
first came on, directed to yourself, and enclosed 
in a few short lines to you, with an intimation on 
the cover of the package that it was not to be 
forwarded till after he was dead. One of these 
papers was a letter to this girl Agnes, and the 
other a will. 1 ' 

"What of the letter?" asked Mr. Brown- 
low. 

"The letter? — A sheet of paper crossed and 
crossed again, with a penitent confession, and 
prayers to God to help her. He had palmed 
a tale on the girl that some secret mystery — 
to be explained one day — prevented his mar- 
rying her just then ; and so she had gone on 
trusting patiently to him until she trusted too 
far, and lost what none could ever give her 
back. She was at that time within a few 
months of her confinement. He told her all 
he had meant to do to hide her shame, if he 
had lived, and prayed her, if he died, not to 
curse his memory, or think the consequences 
of their sin would be visited on her or their 
young child ; for all the guilt was his. He 



OLIVER TWIST. 271 

reminded her of the day he had given her the 
little locket and the ring with her christian 
name engraved upon it, and a blank left for 
that which he hoped one day to have bestowed 
upon her — prayed her yet to keep it, and wear 
it next her heart, as she had done before — 
and then ran on wildly in the same words, 
over and over again, as if he had gone distract- 
ed — as I believe he had." 

" The will," said Mr. Brownlow, as Oliver's 
tears fell fast. 

" I will go on to that." 

" The will was in the same spirit as that letter. 
He talked of miseries which his wife had brought 
upon him, of the rebellious disposition, vice, ma- 
lice, and premature bad passions of you, his only 
son, who had been trained to hate him ; and left 
you and your mother each an annuity of eight 
hundred pounds. The bulk of his property he 
divided into two equal portions — one for Agnes 
Fleming ; and the other for their child, if it 
should be born alive and ever come of age. If 
it was a girl, it was to come into the money 
unconditionally ; but if a boy, only on the 



272 OLIVER TWIST. 

stipulation that in his minority he should never 
have stained his name with any public act of 
dishonour, meanness, cowardice, or wrong. He 
did this, he said, to mark his confidence in the 
mother, and his conviction — only strengthened 
by approaching death — that the child would 
share her gentle heart and noble nature. If 
he was disappointed in this expectation, then 
the money was to come to you ; for then, 
and not till then, when both children were 
equal, would he recognize your prior claim upon 
his purse, who had none upon his heart, but 
had from an infant repulsed him with coldness 
and aversion.' 1 

" My mother, 1 ' said Monks in a louder tone, 
" did what a woman should have done — she 
burnt this will. The letter never reached its 
destination, but that and other proofs she kept, 
in case they ever tried to lie away the blot. 
The girl's father had the truth from her with 
every aggravation that her violent hate — I love 
her for it now — could add. Goaded by shame 
and dishonour, he fled with his children into 
a remote corner of Wales, changing his very 



OLIVER TWIST. 278 

name that his friends might never know of his 
retreat ; and here, no great while afterwards, he 
was found dead in his bed. The girl had left 
her home in secret some weeks before ; he had 
searched for her on foot in every town and 
village near, and it was on the night that he 
returned home, assured that she had destroyed 
herself to hide her shame and his, that his old 
heart broke." 

There was a short silence here, until Mr. 
Brownlow took up the thread of the narrative. 

" Years after this," he said, " this man's — 
Edward Leeford's — mother came to me. He had 
left her when only eighteen, robbed her of jewels 
and money, gambled, squandered, forged, and 
fled to London, where for two years he had 
associated with the lowest outcasts. She was 
sinking under a painful and incurable disease, 
and wished to recover him before she died. 
Inquiries were set on foot ; strict searches made, 
unavailing for a long time, but ultimately suc- 
cessful ; and he went back with her to France." 

" There she died," said Monks, " after a 
lingering illness ; and on her death-bed she 



274 OLIVER TWIST. 

bequeathed these secrets to me together Avitli 
her unquenchable and deadly hatred of all whom 
they involved, though she need not have left 
me that, for I had inherited it long before. 
She would not believe that the girl had de- 
stroyed herself and the child too, but was filled 
with the impression that a male child had been 
born, and was alive. I swore to her if ever 
it crossed my path to hunt it down, never to 
let it rest, to pursue it with the bitterest and 
most unrelenting animosity, to vent upon it 
the hatred that I deeply felt, and to spit upon 
the empty vaunt of that insulting will by drag- 
ging it, if I could, to the very gallows-foot. She 
was right. He came in my way at last ; I 
began well, and but for babbling drabs I would 
have finished as I began ; I would, I would !" 

As the villain folded his arms tight together, 
and muttered curses on himself in the impotence 
of baffled malice, Mr. Brownlow turned to the 
terrified group beside him, and explained that the 
Jew, who had been his old accomplice and confi- 
dent, had a large reward for keeping Oliver en- 
snared, of which some part was to be given up in 



OLIVER TWIST. 275 

the event of his being rescued, and that a dispute 
on this head had led to their visit to the country 
house for the purpose of identifying him. 

" The locket and ring ?" said Mr. Brownlow, 
turning to Monks. 

" I bought them from the man and woman I 
told you of, who stole them from the nurse, who 
stole them from the corpse, 11 answered Monks 
without raising his eyes. " You know what be- 
came of them. 11 

Mr. Brownlow merely nodded to Mr. Grim- 
wig, who, disappearing with great alacrity, shortly 
returned, pushing in Mrs. Bumble, and dragging 
her unwilling consort after him. 

" Do my hi's deceive me I 11 cried Mr. Bum- 
ble with ill-feigned enthusiasm, " or is that little 
Oliver ? Oh O-li-ver, if you know'd how I've 
been a- grieving for you — I 11 

" Hold your tongue, fool, 11 murmured Mrs. 
Bumble. 

" Isn't natur, natur, Mrs. Bumble I 11 remon- 
strated the workhouse master. " Can't I be sup- 
posed to feel — I as brought him up porochially — 
when I see him a-setting here among ladies and 



276 OLIVER TWIST. 

gentlemen of the very affablest description ! I 
always loved that boy as if he'd been my — my — 
my own grandfather," said Mr. Bumble, halting 
for an appropriate comparison. " Master Oli- 
ver, my dear, you remember the blessed gentle- 
man in the white waistcoat ? Ah ! he went to 
heaven last week in a oak coffin with plated han- 
dles, Oliver: 1 

" Come, sir, 1 ' said Mr. Grim wig tartly, 
44 suppress your feelings." 

" I will do my endeavours, sir," replied Mr. 
Bumble. " How do you do, sir ? I hope you 
are very well." 

This salutation was addressed to Mr. Brown- 
low, who had stepped up to within a short dis- 
tance of the respectable couple, and who inquired, 
as he pointed to Monks, — 

" Do you know that person ?" 

" No," replied Mrs. Bumble flatly. 

" Perhaps you don't ?" said Mr. Brownlow, 
addressing her spouse. 

" I never saw him in all my life," said Mr. 
Bumble. 

" Nor sold him anything, perhaps ?" 



OLIVER TWIST. 277 

" No," replied Mrs. Bumble. 

" You never had, perhaps, a certain gold 
locket and ring ?" said Mr. Brownlow. 

" Certainly not," replied the matron. " What 
are we brought here to answer to such nonsense 
as this for ?" 

Again Mr. Brownlow nodded to Mr. Grimwig, 
and again that gentleman limped away with ex- 
traordinary readiness. But not again did he re- 
turn with a stout man and wife, for this time he 
led in two palsied women, who shook and tot- 
tered as they walked. 

" You shut the door the night old Sally 
died," said the foremost one, raising her shri- 
velled hand, " but you couldn't shut out the 
sound nor stop the chinks." 

" No, no," said the other, looking round 
her and wagging her toothless jaws. " No, no, 
no." 

" We heard her try to tell you what she'd 
done, and saw you take a paper from her hand, 
and watched you too, next day, to the pawnbro- 
ker's shop," said the first. 

"Yes," added the second, "and it was a 

o 5 



278 OLIVER TWIST. 

' locket and gold ring/ We found out that, 
and saw it given you. We were bye. Oh ! we 
were bye."' 1 

" And we know more than that," resumed the 
first, " for she told us often, long ago, that the 
young mother had told her that, feeling she 
should never get over it, she was on her way, at 
the time that she was taken ill, to die near the 
grave of the father of the child." 

" Would you like to see the pawnbroker him- 
self?" asked Mr. Grimwig with a motion to- 
wards the door. 

" No," replied the woman; " if he" — she 
pointed to Monks — " has been coward enough 
to confess, as I see he has, and you have sound- 
ed all these hags till you found the right ones, I 
have nothing more to say. I did sell them, and 
they're where you'll never get them. What 
then ?" 

" Nothing," replied Mr. Brownlow, " except 
that it remains for us to take care that you are 
neither of you employed in a situation of trust 
again. You may leave the room." 

" I hope," said Mr. Bumble, looking about 



OLIVER TWIST. 279 

him with great ruefulness as Mr. Grim wig disap- 
peared with the two old women, " I hope that 
this unfortunate little circumstance will not de- 
prive me of my porochial office ?" 

" Indeed it will," replied Mr. Brownlow ; 
" you must make up your mind to that, and 
think yourself well off besides." 

" It was all Mrs. Bumble — she would do it — " 
urged Mr. Bumble ; first looking round to ascer- 
tain that his partner had left the room. 

" That is no excuse," returned Mr. Brownlow. 
" You were present on the occasion of the de- 
struction of these trinkets, and, indeed, are the 
more guilty of the two in the eye of the law, 
for the law supposes that your wife acts under 
your direction." 

" If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, 
squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, 
" the law is a ass — a idiot. If that is the eye of 
the law, the law's a bachelor, and the worst I 
wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by 
experience — by experience." 

Laying great stress on the repetition of these 
two words, Mr. Bumble fixed his hat on very 



280 OLIVER TWIST. 

tight, and putting his hands in his pockets fol- 
lowed his helpmate down stairs. 

u Young lady," said Mr. Brownlow, turning to 
Rose, " give Hie your hand. Do not tremble ; 
you need not fear to hear the few remaining 
words we have to say." 

" If they have — I do not know how they can, 
but if they have — any reference to me, 11 said Rose, 
" pray let me hear them at some other time. I 
have not strength or spirits now.'" 

" Nay," returned the old gentleman, drawing 
her arm through his ; " you have more fortitude 
than this, I am sure. Do you know this young 
lady, sir ?" 

" Yes," replied Monks. 

" I never saw you before," said Rose faintly. 

" I have seen you often," returned Monks. 

" The father of the unhappy Agnes had two 
daughters," said Mr. Brownlow. " What was 
the fate of the other — the child ?" 

u The child," replied Monks, " when her 
father died in a strange place, in a strange name, 
without a letter, book, or scrap of paper that 
yielded the faintest clue by which his friends 



OLIVER TWIST. 281 

or relatives could be traced — the child was taken 
by some wretched cottagers, who reared it as their 
own." 

" Go on," said Mr. Brownlow, signing to 
Mrs. Maylie to approach. u Go on !" 

" You couldn't find the spot to which these 
people had repaired," said Monks, " but where 
friendship fails, hatred will often force a way. 
My mother found it after a year of cunning 
search — ay, and found the child." 

" She took it, did she?" 

" No. The people were poor, and began to 
sicken — at least the man did — of their fine hu- 
manity ; so she left it with them, giving them a 
small present of money which would not last long, 
and promising more, which she never meant to 
send. She didn't quite rely, however, on their 
discontent and poverty for the child's unhap- 
piness, but told the history of the sister's shame 
with such alterations as suited her, bade them 
take good heed of the child, for she came of bad 
blood, and told them she was illegitimate, and 
sure to go wrong one time or other. The cir- 
cumstances countenanced all this ; the people 



282 OLIVER TWIST. 

believed it ; and there the child dragged on an 
existence miserable enough even to satisfy us, 
until a widow lady, residing then at Chester, saw 
the girl by chance, pitied her, and took her home. 
There was some cursed spell against us, for 
in spite of all our efforts she remained there and 
was happy : I lost sight of her two or three 
years ago, and saw her no more until a few 
months back." 

" Do you see her now ?" 

" Yes — leaning on your arm." 

" But not the less my niece, 1 "' cried Mrs. May- 
lie, folding the fainting girl in her arms, — " not 
the less my dearest child. I would not lose her 
now for all the treasures of the world. My sweet 
companion, my own dear girl — " 

" The only friend I ever had," cried Rose, 
clinging to her, — " the kindest, best of friends. 
My heart will burst. I cannot — cannot — bear 
all this." 

" You have borne more, and been through all 
the best and gentlest creature that ever shed hap- 
piness on every one she knew," said Mrs. Maybe, 
embracing her tenderly. " Come, come, my love, 



OLIVER TWIST. %83 

remember who this is who waits to clasp you in 
his arms, poor child, — see here — look, look, my 
dear." 

" Not aunt,''' cried Oliver, throwing his arms 
about her neck : " I '11 never call her aunt — 
sister, my own dear sister, that something taught 
my heart to love so dearly from the first — Rose, 
dear, darling Rose." 

Let the tears which fell, and the broken 
words which were exchanged in the long close 
embrace between the orphans, be sacred. A 
father, sister, and mother, were gained and lost 
in that one moment. Joy and grief were min- 
gled in the cup, but there were no bitter tears, 
for even grief itself arose so softened, and 
clothed in such sweet and tender recollections, 
that it became a solemn pleasure, and lost all 
character of pain. 

They were a long, long time alone. A soft 
tap at the door at length announced that some 
one was without. Oliver opened it, glided away, 
and gave place to Harry Maylie. 

" I know it all," he said, taking a seat be- 



284 OLIVER TWIST. 

side the lovely girl. "Dear Rose, I know it 
all." 

"lam not here by accident,"" he added after 
a lengthened silence; " nor have I heard all 
this to-night, for I knew it yesterday — only 
yesterday. Do you guess that I have come to 
remind you of a promise ?" 

" Stay," said Rose, — ." you do know all ?" 

" All. You gave me leave, at any time 
within a year, to renew the subject of our last 
discourse."" 

" I did." 

" Not to press you to alter your determina- 
tion, " pursued the young man, " but to hear 
you repeat it, if you would. I was to lay what- 
ever of station or fortune I might possess at your 
feet, and if you still adhered to your former de- 
termination, I pledged myself by no word or act 
to seek to change it." 

" The same reasons which influenced me then 
will influence me now," said Rose firmly. " If 
I ever owed a strict and rigid duty to her, whose 
goodness saved me from a life of indigence and 



OLIVER TWIST. 285 

suffering, when should I ever feel it as I should 
to-night ? It is a struggle," said Rose, " but 
one I am proud to make; it is a pang, but 
one my heart shall bear." 

" The disclosure of to-night — " Harry began. 

" The disclosure of to-night," replied Rose 
softly, " leaves me in the same position, with 
reference to you, as that in which I stood be- 
fore." 

" You harden your heart against me, Rose," 
urged her lover. 

" Oh, Harry, Harry," said the young lady, 
bursting into tears, " I wish I could, and spare 
myself this pain." 

" Then why inflict it on yourself ?" said Harry, 
taking her hand. " Think, dear Rose, think 
what you have heard to-night. " 

"And what have I heard ! what have I heard!" 
cried Rose. " That a sense of his deep disgrace 
so worked upon my own father that he shunned 
all — there, we have said enough, Harry, we 
have said enough." 

" Not yet, not yet," said the young man, de- 
taining her as she rose. " My hopes, my wishes, 



286 OLIVER TWIST. 

prospects, feeling — every thought in life ex- 
cept my love for you — have undergone a change. 
I offer you, now, no distinction among a 
bustling crowd, no mingling with a world of 
malice and detraction, where the blood is called 
into honest cheeks by aught but real disgrace 
and shame ; but a home — a heart and home — 
yes, dearest Rose, and those, and those alone, 
are all I have to offer." 

" What does this mean !" faltered the young- 
lady. 

" It means but this — that when I left you 
last, I left you with the firm determination to 
level all fancied barriers between yourself and 
me ; resolved that if my world could not be 
yours, I would make yours mine ; that no 
pride of birth should curl the lip at you, for 
I would turn from it. This I have done. 
Those who have shrunk from me because of 
this, have shrunk from you, and proved you so 
far right. Such power and patronage — such 
relatives of influence and rank — as smiled upon 
me then, look coldly now ; but there are smil- 
ing fields and waving trees in England's richest 



OLIVER TWIST. 287 

county, and by one village church — mine, Rose, 
my own — there stands a rustic dwelling which 
you can make me prouder of than all the hopes 
I have renounced, measured a thousandfold. 
This is my rank and station now, and here I 
lay it down." 

* # * 

" It 's a trying thing waiting supper for 
lovers," said Mr. Grimwig, waking up, and pull- 
ing his pocket handkerchief from over his head. 

Truth to tell, the supper had been Availing 
a most unreasonable time. Neither Mrs. May- 
lie, nor Harry, nor Rose (who all came in 
together), could offer a word in extenuation. 

" I had serious thoughts of eating my head 
to-night," said Mr. Grimwig, " for I began to 
think I should get nothing else. I '11 take the 
liberty, if you '11 allow me, of saluting the bride 
that is to be.'' 

Mr. Grimwig lost no time in carrying this 
notice into effect upon the blushing girl ; and 
the example being contagious, was followed both 
by the doctor and Mr. Brownlow. Some people 
affirm that Harry Maylie had been observed to 



288 OLIVER TWIST. 

set it originally in a dark room adjoining ; but 
the best authorities consider this downright 
scandal, he being young and a clergyman. 
. " Oliver, my child," said Mrs. Maylie, 
" where have you been, and why do you look 
so sad ? There are tears stealing down your 
face at this moment. What is the matter ?" 

It is a world of disappointment — often to 
the hopes we most cherish, and hopes that do 
our nature the greatest honour. 

Poor Dick was dead ! 



OLIVER TWIST 2S9 



CHAPTER L. 

the jew's last night alive. 

The court was paved from floor to roof with 
human faces. Inquisitive and eager eyes peered 
from every inch of space ; from the rail before 
the dock, away into the sharpest angle of the 
smallest corner in the galleries, all looks were 
fixed upon one man — the Jew. Before him 
and behind, above, below, on the right and on 
the left — he seemed to stand surrounded by a 
firmament all bright with beaming eyes. 

He stood there, in all this glare of living light, 
with one hand resting on the wooden slab be- 
fore him, the other held to his ear, and his head 
thrust forward to enable him to catch with greater 
distinctness every word that fell from the presiding 
judge, who was delivering his charge to the jury. 
At times he turned his eyes sharply upon them 



290 OLIVER TWIST. 

to observe the effect of the slightest feather- 
weight in his favour ; and when the points 
against him were stated with terrible distinct- 
ness, looked towards his counsel in mute appeal 
that he would even then urge something in his 
behalf. Beyond these manifestations of anxiety, 
he stirred not hand or foot. He had scarcely 
moved since the trial began ; and now that the 
judge ceased to speak, he still remained in the 
same strained attitude of close attention, with his 
gaze bent on him as though he listened still. 

A slight bustle in the court recalled him to 
himself, and looking round, he saw that the 
jurymen had turned together to consider of 
their verdict. As his eyes wandered to the 
gallery, he could see the people rising above each 
other to see his face : some hastily applying their 
glasses to their eyes, and others whispering their 
neighbours with looks expressive of abhorrence. 
A few there were who seemed unmindful of him, 
and looked only to the jury in impatient wonder 
how they could delay, but in no one face — 
not even among the women, of whom there were 
many there — could he read the faintest sym- 



OLIVER TWIST. 291 

pathy with him, or any feeling but one of all- 
absorbing interest that he should be condemned. 

As he saw all this in one bewildered glance, 
the death-like stillness came again, and looking 
back, he saw that the jurymen had turned to- 
wards the judge. Hush ! 

They only sought permission to retire. 

He looked wistfully into their faces, one by 
one, when they passed out, as though to see 
which way the greater number leant ; but that 
was fruitless. The jailer touched him on the 
shoulder. He followed mechanically to the end 
of the dock, and sat down on a chair. The 
man pointed it out, or he should not have seen it. 
He looked up into the gallery again. Some 
of the people were eating, and some fanning 
themselves with handkerchiefs, for the crowded 
place was very hot. There was one young man 
sketching his face in a little note-book. He 
wondered whether it was like, and looked on 
when the artist broke his pencil-point and made 
another with his knife, as any idle spectator 
might have done. 

In the same way, when he turned his eyes 



292 OLIVER TWIST. 

towards the judge, his mind began to busy itself 
with the fashion of his dress, and what it cost, 
and how he put it on. There was an old fat 
gentleman on the bench, too, who had gone out 
some half an hour before, and now came back. 
He wondered within himself whether this man 
had been to get his dinner, what he had had, 
and where he had had it, and pursued this train 
of careless thought until some new object caught 
his eye and roused another. 

Not that all this time his mind was for an 
instant free from one oppressive overwhelming 
sense of the grave that opened at his feet ; it 
was ever present to him, but in a vague and 
general way, and he could not fix his thoughts 
upon it. Thus, even while he trembled and 
turned, burning hot at the idea of speedy death, 
he fell to counting the iron spikes before him, 
and wondering how the head of one had been 
broken off, and whether they would mend it or 
leave it as it was. Then he thought of all the 
horrors of the gallows and the scaffold, and 
stopped to watch a man sprinkling the floor to 
cool it — and then went on to think again. 



OLIVER TWIST. 293 

At length there was a cry of silence, and a 
breathless look from all towards the door. The 
jury returned and passed him close. He could 
glean nothing from their faces ; they might as 
well have been of stone. Perfect stillness en- 
sued — not a rustle — not a breath — Guilty. 

The building rang with a tremendous shout, 
and another, and another, and then it echoed deep 
loud groans that gathered strength as they swell- 
ed out, like angry thunder. It was a peal of 
joy from the populace outside, greeting the news 
that he would die on Monday. 

The noise subsided, and he was asked if he 
had anything to say why sentence of death 
should not be passed upon him. He had re* 
sumed his listening attitude, and looked intently 
at his questioner while the demand was made, 
but it was twice repeated before he seemed to 
hear it, and then he only muttered that he was 
an old man — an old man — an old man — and so 
dropping into a whisper, was silent again. 

The judge assumed the black cap, and the 
prisoner still stood with the same air and ges- 
ture. A woman in the gallery uttered some 

VOL. III. p 



294 OLIVER TWIST. 

exclamation, called forth by this dread solemnity; 
he looked hastily up as if angry at the inter- 
ruption, and bent forward yet more attentively. 
The address was solemn and impressive, the 
sentence fearful to hear, but he stood like a 
marble figure, without the motion of a nerve. 
His haggard face was still thrust forward, his 
under-jaw hanging down, and his eyes staring 
out before him, when the jailer put his hand 
upon his arm, and beckoned him away. He 
gazed stupidly about him for an instant, and 
obeyed. 

They led him through a paved room under the 
court, where some prisoners were waiting till 
their turns came, and others were talking to 
their friends who crowded round a grate which 
looked into the open yard. There was nobody 
there to speak to him, but as he passed, the 
prisoners fell back to render him more visible to 
the people who were clinging to the bars, and 
they assailed him with opprobrious names, and 
screeched and hissed. He shook his fist and 
would have spat upon them, but his conductors 
hurried him on through a gloomy passage lighted 



OLIVER TWIST. 295 

by a few dim lamps, into the interior of the 
prison. 

Here he was searched, that he might not have 
about him the means of anticipating the law ; this 
ceremony performed, they led him to one of the 
condemned cells, and left him there — alone. 

He sat down on a stone bench opposite the 
door, which served for seat and bedstead, and 
casting his bloodshot eyes upon the ground tried 
to collect his thoughts. After a while he began 
to remember a few disjointed fragments of what 
the judge had said, though it had seemed to him 
at the time that he could not hear a word. 
These gradually fell into their proper places, 
and by degrees suggested more, so that in a 
little time he had the whole almost as it was de- 
livered. To be hanged by the neck till he was 
dead — that was the end, To be hanged by the 
neck till he was dead. 

As it came on very dark, he began to think 
of all the men he had known who had died upon 
the scaffold — some of them through his means. 
They rose up in such quick succession that he 
could hardly count them. He had seen some 

p2 



296 OLIVER TWIST. 

of them die, — and joked too, because they died 
with prayers upon their lips. With what a 
rattling noise the drop went down ; and how 
suddenly they changed from strong and vigorous 
men to dangling heaps of clothes ! 

Some of them might have inhabited tljat very 
cell — sat upon that very spot. It was very 
dark ; why didn't they bring a light ? The 
cell had been built for many years — scores of men 
must have passed their last hours there — it was 
like sitting in a vault strewn with dead bodies — 
the cap, the noose, the pinioned arms — the faces 
that he knew even beneath that hideous veil — 
Light, light ! 

At length when his hands were raw with 
beating against the heavy door and walls, two 
men appeared, one bearing a candle which he 
thrust into an iron candlestick fixed against the 
wall, and the other dragging in a mattress on 
which to pass the night, for the prisoner was to 
be left alone no more. 

Then came night — dark, dismal, silent night. 
Other watchers are glad to hear the church- 
clocks strike, for they tell of life and coming 




""V/- 






OLIVER TWIST. 297 

day. To the Jew they brought despair. The 
boom of every iron bell came laden with the one 
deep hollow sound — Death. What availed the 
noise and bustle of cheerful morning, which 
penetrated even there, to him ? It was another 
form of knell, with mockery added to the 
warning. 

The day passed off — day, there was no 
day ; it was gone as soon as come — and night 
came on again ; night so long and yet so short ; 
long in its dreadful silence, and short in its 
fleeting hours. One time he raved and blas- 
phemed, and at another howled and tore his 
hair. Venerable men of his own persuasion 
had come to pray beside him, but he had 
driven them away with curses. They renewed 
their charitable efforts, and he beat them off. 

Saturday night ; he had only one night more 
to live. And as he thought of this, the day broke 
— Sunday. 

It was not until the night of this last awful 
day that a withering sense of his helpless des- 
perate state came in its full intensity upon his 
blighted soul ; not that he had ever held any 



298 OLIVER TWIST. 

defined or positive hopes of mercy, but that he 
had never been able to consider more than the 
dim probability of dying so soon. He had 
spoken little to either of the two men who re- 
lieved each other in their attendance upon him, 
and they, for their parts, made no effort to 
rouse his attention. He had sat there awake, 
but dreaming. Now he started up every minute, 
and with gasping mouth and burning skin hur- 
ried to and fro, in such a paroxysm of fear and 
wrath that even they — used to such sights — re- 
coiled from him with horror. He grew so terri- 
ble at last in all the tortures of his evil con- 
science, that one man could not bear to sit there, 
eyeing him alone, and so the two kept watch 
together. 

He cowered down upon his stone bed, and 
thought of the past. He had been wounded 
with some missiles from the crowd on the day 
of his capture, and his head was bandaged with a 
linen cloth. His red hair hung down upon 
his bloodless face ; his beard was torn and twisted 
into knots ; his eyes shone with a terrible light ; 
his unwashed flesh crackled with the fever that 



OLIVER TWIST. 299 

burnt him up. Eight — nine — ten. If it was 
not a trick to frighten him, and those were the 
real hours treading on each other's heels, where 
would he be when they came round again ! 
Eleven. Another struck ere the voice of the 
hour before had ceased to vibrate. At eight he 
would be the only mourner in his own funeral 
train ; at eleven 

Those dreadful walls of Newgate, which have 
hidden so much misery and such unspeakable 
anguish, not only from the eyes, but too often 
and too long from the thoughts of men, never 
held so dread a spectacle as that. The few 
who lingered as they passed and wondered what 
the man was doing who was to be hung to-mor- 
row, would have slept but ill that night, if they 
could have seen him then. 

From early in the evening until nearly mid- 
night, little groups of two and three presented 
themselves at the lodge-gate, and inquired with 
anxious faces whether any reprieve had been 
received. These being answered in the negative, 
communicated the welcome intelligence to clusters 
in the street, who pointed out to one another the 



300 OLIVER TWIST. 

cloor from which he must come out, and showed 
where the scaffold would be built, and, walking 
with unwilling steps away, turned back to conjure 
up the scene. By degrees they fell off one by 
one, and for an hour in the dead of night, 
the street was left to solitude and darkness. 

The space before the prison was cleared, and 
a few strong barriers, painted black, had been 
already thrown across the road to break the pres- 
sure of the expected crowd, when Mr. Brown- 
low and Oliver appeared at the wicket, and pre- 
sented an order of admission to the prisoner, 
signed by one of the sheriffs. They were im- 
mediately admitted into the lodge. 

" Is the young gentleman to come too, sir?" 
said the man whose duty it was to conduct 
them. " It 's not a sight for children, sir." 

"It is not indeed, my friend," rejoined Mr. 
Brownlow, " but my business with this man 
is intimately connected with him, and as this 
child has seen him in the full career of his 
success and villany, I think it better — even at the 
cost of some pain and fear — that he should see 
him now." 



OLIVER TWIST. 301 

These few words had been said apart, so as to 
be inaudible to Oliver. The man touched his 
hat, and glancing at him with some curiosity, 
opened another gate opposite to that at which 
they had entered, and led them on through dark 
and winding ways, towards the cells. 

" This," said the man, stopping in a gloomy 
passage where a couple of workmen were making 
some preparations in profound silence, — " this 
is the place he passes through. If you step this 
way, you can see the door he goes out at." 

He led them into a stone kitchen, fitted with 
coppers for dressing the prison food, and pointed 
to a door. There was an open grating above it, 
through which came the sound of men's voices, 
mingled with the noise of hammering and the 
throwing down of boards. They were putting 
up the scaffold. 

From this place they passed through several 
strong gates, opened by other turnkeys from 
the inner side, and having entered an open 
yard, ascended a flight of narrow steps, and 
came into a passage with a row of strong doors 
on the left hand. Motioning them to remain 

p5 



302 OLIVER TWIST. 

where they were, the turnkey knocked at 
one of these with his bunch of keys. The 
two attendants after a little whispering came 
out into the passage, stretching themselves as 
if glad of the temporary relief, and motioned 
the visitors to follow the jailer into the cell. 
They did so. 

The condemned criminal was seated on his 
bed, rocking himself from side to side, with a 
countenance more like that of a snared beast 
than the face of a man. His mind was evidently 
wandering to his old life, for he continued to 
mutter, without seeming conscious of their pre- 
sence otherwise than as a part of his vision. 

" Good boy, Charley — well done — " he mum- 
bled. " Oliver too, ha ! ha ! ha ! Oliver too — 
quite the gentleman now — quite the — take that 
boy away to bed." 

The jailer took the disengaged hand of Oliver, 
and whispering him not to be alarmed, looked 
on without speaking. 

" Take him away to bed — " cried the Jew. 
" Do you hear me, some of you ? He has 
been the — the — somehow the cause of all this. 



OLIVER TWIST. 303 

It 's worth the money to bring him up to it — 
Bolter's throat, Bill ; never mind the girl — 
Bolter's throat as deep as you can cut. Saw 
his head off." 

" Fagin," said the jailer. 

" That 's me !" cried the Jew, falling in- 
stantly into precisely the same attitude of listen- 
ing that he had assumed upon his trial. "An 
old man, my Lord ; a very old, old man." 

" Here," said the turnkey, laying his hand 
upon his breast to keep him down. " Here 's 
somebody wants to see you, to ask you some 
questions, I suppose. Fagin, Fagin. Are you a 
man?" 

" I shan't be one long," replied the Jew, 
looking up with a face retaining no human ex- 
pression but rage and terror. " Strike them 
all dead ! what right have they to butcher 
me ?" 

As he spoke he caught sight of Oliver and 
Mr. Brownlow, and shrinking to the furthest 
corner of the seat, demanded to know what they 
wanted there. 

" Steady," said the turnkey, still holding 



304 OLIVER TWIST. 

him down. " Now, sir, tell him what you 
want — quick, if you please, for he grows worse 
as the time gets on." 

" You have some papers, 1 ' said Mr. Brown- 
low advancing, " which were placed in your 
hands for better security, by a man called 
Monks." 

" It 's all a lie together, 11 replied the Jew. 
" I haven't one — not one. 11 

" For the love of God, 11 said Mr. Brownlow 
solemnly, " do not say that now, upon the very 
verge of death ; but tell me where they are. 
You know that Sikes is dead ; that Monks has 
confessed ; that there is no hope of any further 
gain. Where are these papers ?" 

" Oliver," cried the Jew, beckoning to him. 
" Here, here. Let me whisper to you. 11 

" I am not afraid, 11 said Oliver in a low voice, 
as he relinquished Mr. Brownlow^ hand. 

" The papers, 11 said the Jew, drawing him 
towards him, " are in a canvass bag, in a hole 
a little way up the chimney in the top front- 
room. I want to talk to you, my dear — I 
want to talk to you. 11 



OLIVER TWIST. 305 

" Yes, yes," returned Oliver. " Let me say 
a prayer. Do. Let me say one prayer ; say only 
one upon your knees with me, and we will talk 
till morning." 

" Outside, outside," replied the Jew, push- 
ing the boy before him towards the door, and 
looking vacantly over his head. " Say I 've 
gone to sleep — they '11 believe you. You can 
get me out if you take me so. Now then, 
now then." 

"Oh! God forgive this wretched man !" 
cried the boy with a burst of tears. 

" That 's right, that 's right," said the Jew. 
" That '11 help us on. This door first ; if I 
shake and tremble as we pass the gallows, don't 
you mind, but hurry on. Now, now, now." 

" Have you nothing else to ask him, sir?" in- 
quired the turnkey. 

" No other question," replied Mr. Brownlow. 
" If I hoped we could recall him to a sense of 
his position — " 

" Nothing will do that, sir," replied the man, 
shaking his head. " You had better leave him." 



306 OLIVER TWIST. 

The door of the cell opened, and the attend- 
ants returned. 

" Press on, press on," cried the Jew. " Softly, 
but not so slow. Faster, faster !" 

The men laid hands upon him, and disengag- 
ing Oliver from his grasp, held him back. He 
writhed and struggled with the power of despera- 
tion, and sent up shriek upon shriek that pene- 
trated even those massive walls, and rang in 
their ears until they reached the open yard. 

It was some time before they left the prison, 
for Oliver nearly swooned after this frightful 
scene, and was so weak that for an hour or more 
he had not the strength to walk. 

Day was dawning when they again emerged. 
A great multitude had already assembled ; the 
windows were filled with people smoking and 
playing cards to beguile the time ; the crowd 
were pushing, quarrelling, and joking. Every- 
thing told of life and animation, but one dark 
cluster of objects in the very centre of all — the 
black stage, the cross-beam, the rope, and all 
the hideous apparatus of death. 



OLIVER TWIST. 307 



CHAPTER LL 



AND LAST. 



The fortunes of those who have figured in 
this tale are nearly closed, and what little re- 
mains to their historian to relate is told in few 
and simple words. 

Before three months had passed, Rose Flem- 
ing and Harry Maylie were married in the vil- 
lage church, which was henceforth to be the scene 
of the young clergyman's labours ; on the same 
day they entered into possession of their new 
and happy home. 

Mrs. Maylie took up her abode with her son 
and daughter-in-law, to enjoy, during the tran- 
quil remainder of her days, the greatest felicity 
that age and worth can know — the contempla- 
tion of the happiness of those on whom the 



308 OLIVER TWIST. 

warmest affections and tenderest cares of a well- 
spent life have been unceasingly bestowed. 

It appeared, on a full and careful investiga- 
tion, that if the wreck of property remaining in 
the custody of Monks (which had never pro- 
spered either in his hands or in those of his 
mother) were equally divided between himself 
and Oliver, it would yield to each little more 
than three thousand pounds. By the provisions 
of his father's will, Oliver would have been en- 
titled to the whole; but Mr. Brownlow, un- 
willing to deprive the elder son of the oppor- 
tunity of retrieving his former vices and pur- 
suing an honest career, proposed this mode of 
distribution, to which his young charge most 
joyfully acceded. 

Monks, still bearing that assumed name, re- 
tired with his portion to a distant part of the 
New World, where, having quickly squandered 
it, he once more fell into his old courses, and, 
after undergoing a long confinement for some 
fresh act of fraud and knavery, at length sunk 
under an attack of his old disorder, and died 
in prison. As far from home, died the chief re- 
maining members of his friend Fagin's gang. 



OLIVER TWIST. 309 

Mr. Brownlow adopted Oliver as his own son, 
and removing with him and the old housekeeper 
to within a mile of the parsonage house, where 
his dear friends resided, gratified the only re- 
maining wish of Oliver's warm and earnest heart, 
and thus linked together a little society, whose 
condition approached as nearly to one of per- 
fect happiness as can ever be known in this chang- 
ing world. 

Soon after the marriage of the young people, 
the worthy doctor returned to Chertsey, where, 
bereft of the presence of his old friends, he 
would have been discontented if his tempera- 
ment had admitted of such a feeling, and would 
have turned quite peevish if he had known how. 
For two or three months he contented himself 
with hinting that he feared the air began to 
disagree with him, and then finding that the 
place really was to him no longer what it had 
been before, settled his business on his assist- 
ant, took a bachelor's cottage just outside the 
village of which his young friend was pastor, 
and instantaneously recovered. Here he took to 
gardening, planting, fishing, carpentering, and 



310 OLIVER TWIST. 

various other pursuits of a similar kind, all un- 
dertaken with his characteristic impetuosity ; and 
in each and all, he has since become famous 
throughout the neighbourhood as a most pro- 
found authority. 

Before his removal, he had managed to con- 
tract a strong friendship for Mr. Grim wig, which 
that eccentric gentleman cordially reciprocated. 
He is accordingly visited by him a great many 
times in the course of the year, and on all such 
occasions Mr. Grimwig plants, fishes, and car- 
penters with great ardour, doing everything in 
a very singular and unprecedented manner ; but 
always maintaining, with his favourite assevera- 
tion, that his mode is the right one. On Sun- 
days, he never fails to criticise the sermon to 
the young clergyman's face, always informing 
Mr. Losberne, in strict confidence afterwards, 
that he considers it an excellent performance, 
but thinks it as well not to say so. It is a 
standing and very favourite joke for Mr. Brown- 
low to rally him on his old prophecy concerning 
Oliver, and to remind him of the night on which 
they sat with the watch between them waiting 



OLIVER TWIST. 311 

his return ; but Mr. Grimwig contends that 
he was right in the main, and in proof thereof 
remarks that Oliver did not come back, after all, 
which always calls forth a laugh on his side, 
and increases his good humour. 

Mr. Noah Claypole, receiving a free pardon 
from the crown in consequence of being ad- 
mitted approver against the Jew, and consi- 
dering his profession not altogether as safe a 
one as he could wish, was for some little time 
at a loss for the means of a livelihood, not bur- 
dened with too much work. After some con- 
sideration he went into business as an informer, 
in which calling he realizes a genteel subsistence. 
His plan is to walk out once a week during 
church time, attended by Charlotte in respec- 
table attire. The lady faints away at the doors 
of charitable publicans, and the gentleman being 
accommodated with threepennyworth of brandy 
to restore her, lays an information next day, 
and pockets half the penalty. Sometimes Mr. 
Claypole faints himself, but the result is the 
same. 

Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, deprived of their si- 



312 OLIVER TWIST. 

tuations, were gradually reduced to great indi- 
gence and misery, and finally became paupers 
in that very same workhouse in which they had 
once lorded it over others. Mr. Bumble has 
been heard to say, that in this reverse and de- 
gradation he has not even spirits to be thank- 
ful for being separated from his wife. 

As to Mr. Giles and Brittles, they still remain 
in their old posts, although the former is bald, 
and the last-named boy quite grey. They sleep 
at the parsonage, but divide their attentions 
so equally between its inmates, and Oliver, and 
Mr. Brownlow, and Mr. Losberne, that to this 
day the villagers have never been able to dis- 
cover to which establishment they properly 
belong. 

Master Charles Bates, appalled by Sikes's 
crime, fell into a train of reflection whether an 
honest life was not, after all, the best. Ar- 
riving at the conclusion that it certainly was, 
he turned his back upon the scenes of the past, 
resolved to amend it in some new sphere of 
action. He struggled hard and suffered much 
for some time ; but having a contented dispo- 




fywR^wfisJwnfes 






OLIVER TWIST. 313 

sition and a good purpose, succeeded in the 
end ; and, from being a farmer's drudge and a 
carrier's lad, is now the merriest young grazier 
in all Northamptonshire. 

And now the hand that traces these words 
falters as it approaches the conclusion of its task, 
and would weave for a little longer space the 
thread of these adventures. 

I would fain linger yet with a few of those 
among whom I have so long moved, and share 
their happiness by endeavouring to depict it. I 
would show Rose Maylie in all the bloom and 
grace of early womanhood, shedding upon her 
secluded path in life such soft and gentle light, 
as fell on all who trod it with her, and shone 
into their hearts, — I would paint her the life and 
joy of the fireside circle and the lively summer 
group ; I would follow her through the sultry 
fields at noon, and hear the low tones of her 
sweet voice in the moonlit evening walk ; I 
would watch her in all her goodness and charity 
abroad, and the smiling untiring discharge of 
domestic duties at home ; I would paint her 
and her dead sister's child happy in their mutual 



314 OLIVER TWIST. 

love, and passing whole hours together in pic- 
turing the friends whom they had so sadly lost ; 
I would summon before me once again those 
joyous little faces that clustered round her knee, 
and listen to their merry prattle ; I would 
recall the tones of that clear laugh, and conjure 
up the sympathising tear that glistened in that 
soft blue eye. These, and a thousand looks 
and smiles and turns of thought and speech — I 
would fain recall them every one. 

How Mr. Brownlow went on from day to 
day, filling the mind of his adopted child with 
stores of knowledge, and becoming attached to 
him more and more as his nature developed 
itself, and showed the thriving seeds of all he 
could wish him to become — how he traced in 
him new traits of his early friend, that awakened 
in his own bosom old remembrances, melancholy 
and yet sweet and soothing — how the two 
orphans tried by adversity remembered its les- 
sons in mercy to others, and mutual love, and 
fervent thanks to Him who had protected and 
preserved them — these are all matters which 
need not to be told; for I have said that they 



OLIVER TWIST. 315 

were truly happy, and without strong affection, 
and humanity of heart, and gratitude to that 
Being whose code is mercy, and whose great 
attribute is benevolence to all things that breathe, 
true happiness can never be attained. 

Within the altar of the old village church 
there stands a white marble tablet, which bears as 
yet but one word, — " Agnes !'' There is no coffin 
in that tomb ; and may it be many, many years 
before another name is placed above it. But if 
the spirits of the Dead ever come back to earth 
to visit spots hallowed by the love — the love 
beyond the grave — of those whom they knew 
in life, I do believe that the shade of that poor 
girl often hovers about that solemn nook — ay, 
though it is a church, and she was weak and 



THE END. 



LONDON : 

PRINTED BY SAMUEL BENTLEY, 

Dorset Street, Fleet Stieet. 



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